As the President of PARIM and new Doctors Manitoba Board member, Dr. Mellissa Ward wants to ensure the resident voice is heard.
“Residents are often invited to meetings but not heard. At Doctors Manitoba, the resident voice is valued and I want to ensure I am doing justice to the group I represent,” she says. As a resident, the perspective that she brings is both distinctive and complementary. “Residents are often the first doctor a patient sees and as such we are in a unique position, which has its own rewards and challenges.”
Dr. Ward is loud and clear when it comes to voicing the challenges facing physicians and believes that initiating change starts with talking about what isn’t working.
“I think one of the biggest issues facing doctors now is burnout,” she says. “More and more, this is being recognized but little is being done at the system level to ameliorate the situation. There is emphasis being placed on recognizing burnout and seeking help, but this is at the individual level and even still there is a stigma associated with it.”
Dr. Ward wants to focus more on the causes of burnout and how these issues can be solved at a higher level rather than focusing solely on individual solutions such as resiliency.
She is generous about sharing her own experiences and how she was able to manage through her own challenging times.
“I have experienced burnout and I’m incredibly thankful to my close friends for helping me recognize the problem and encouraging me to get help,” she says.
“I’ve been very open with my colleagues about taking time off and needing that space to re-center. I think it takes some of the stigma away when we talk about our challenges. The more I talk about it, the more I realize I’m not alone and this is something a lot of people go through.”
Born and raised in Saint John, New Brunswick, Dr. Ward completed her medical degree at Dalhousie University before moving to Winnipeg for residency. She has been involved in the Canadian Association of General Surgeons Resident Committee in addition to her roles on the PARIM executive. This year she also starts her Master of Science in Health Sciences Education through McMaster University in addition to sitting on the Doctors Manitoba Board.
Somehow, she still manages to find the time to bake something sweet for her team a couple times per block.
“I enjoy the process of baking but definitely shouldn’t eat all the treats!” she says.