Mindemoya Doctor Uses Community Tradition in Innovative Teaching

Maurianne Reade photo

Dr. Maurianne Reade’s excellence as a family physician could be attributed to her medical training and academic learning. One of seven honoured as OCFP 2016 Regional Family Physicians of the Year, she is a skilled technician whose accomplishments include being certified in emergency medicine and bedside ultrasound.

Those skills may be especially important given that the health professionals in Mindemoya provide clinic, Emergency Room and in-patient services in an area where specialist care is not immediately available. Dr. Reade joined the practice in 2001 and helped to develop the Manitoulin Central Family Health Team in 2009, expanding the team of professionals that provide care to local patients.

But along with new learning, technology and innovation, Dr. Reade’s love and respect for tradition also shines through in all of her work.

Mindemoya, which is at the heart of Manitoulin, sits amid lush maple forests, farmlands and alvars.  Manitoulin Island is home to 14,000 people of whom 40 per cent are First Nations. Here, both collaboration and tradition seem more important than usual.

Dr. Reade cites one example of long-standing practices at the 14-bed Mindemoya site of the Manitoulin Health Centre. “It’s been a tradition since Dr. Jack McQuay was working there to have morning rounds together – it’s something that’s quite special and it’s continued over the decades.” A well-respected physician, Dr. McQuay set up a practice on Manitoulin Island in 1947.

Group handovers with in-patients and emergency room patients provide the practical benefit of sharing ideas inter-professionally, says Dr. Reade. The result is better, integrated care.

Like so many great family doctors, she is also a dedicated leader and teacher who is keen to share knowledge with colleagues, students and residents – whether as Associate Professor with the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM), a Board Member with the Physician Clinical Teachers’ Association, or as a mentor for a new colleague who is changing their scope of practice.

The innovative WildER medical conference, which Dr. Reade helped establish, highlights both tradition and inter-professional collaboration. “We all went with our strengths in creating [the WildER program],” says Dr. Reade. The program of workshops and didactic learning immerses participants in wilderness medicine, survival skills and navigation. For some, it has inspired career paths to the benefit of certain underserviced populations.

In the course of her work Dr. Reade has built relationships with First Nations communities on Manitoulin, including the Debajehmujig Storytellers, a group of theatre artists that has been on the island for more than 30 years. The group delivers a program designed to help medical students hone their communication skills, giving them a safe place to learn about difficult scenarios they may face and providing what one participant described as the “deepest learning experience” of their training.

Based on the tradition of storytelling students participate in simulated patient exams. Characters are developed by the theatre group’s animators – actors who are active in community projects – through their own experiences and taking into account the NOSM mental health objectives for the rotation. 

“They have been very interested in the opportunities as an arts community to have an influence on the education on future physicians,” says Dr. Reade.

She and her colleagues, who have first-hand knowledge of the community and the participating students, also help inform the improvised scenarios.

The beautiful setting and great collaborative practice which first drew her to Mindemoya continue to resonate with Dr. Reade and she is hard-pressed to single out the most rewarding aspect of her “amazing job”.

“It could be the Storytellers or the POC [point-of-care] ultrasound in emergency, or being able to have longitudinal care for your patients for years – being able to care for them up until the moment when you’re helping with palliative care, and being able to share that breadth of experience with your learners,” she says. “As rural physicians you get to know what the different strengths are in your community and if you can see a way of sharing those strengths with your learners, that’s what makes it valuable.”