Manitoulin family doctor honoured by peers

Dr. Maurianne Reade, a physician with the Manitoulin Central Family Health Team, has been named Regional Family Physician of the Year (North East and North West) by the Ontario College of Family Physicians.

Dr. Maurianne Reade has been practising in Mindemoya for 15 years

Dr. Maurianne Reade had only planned to practise medicine on Manitoulin Island for six months, but the beauty of the island and the generosity of the people persuaded her to linger and, 15 years later, the Island has become home.

Now, Reade is being lauded as a 2016 Regional Family Physician of the Year (North East and North West) by the Ontario College of Family Physicians, an annual recognition of the contributions of family physicians across the province “who consistently provide exemplary care to their patients and are passionately involved in activities that contribute to ongoing improvements and excellence in family medicine.”

The accolade came as a surprise, but also an honour, to Reade, who learned only after being selected that she had been nominated by her peers and colleagues.

“To be honoured with all of those physicians was really quite special,” she said. “Thinking of the people who have won it in the past — physicians like Dr. Sarah Newbery (of Marathon) and Dr. Bob Algie (of Fort Frances), and several others, it is really a great honour.”

Growing up in Alberta, Reade trained at the University of Alberta and a practice in northern British Columbia. For the next 10 years, she did locums in Alberta, B.C., the Yukon and Nova Scotia before a colleague accepted a job on Manitoulin and convinced her to come along.

She had never heard of Manitoulin, the largest freshwater island in the world, before she moved there, but “I fell in love with it,” Reade said.

“It’s a great group of people to work with. It’s a beautiful island with 100 interior lakes on it, and beautiful long autumns with all the colours of the maple forest.”

As a family physician with the Manitoulin Central Family Health Team in Mindemoya, Reade sees patients in office, while also devoting time to the emergency department at the Manitoulin Health Centre. Occasionally, she’s called upon to accompany a patient being transferred via ambulance to the next closest acute care hospital two hours away in Sudbury.

Reade is an associate professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and a board member of the Physician Clinical Teachers Association.

She and her colleagues have been keen adopters of clinical teaching practices, welcoming students, residents and clinical clerk students from the medical school.

“This was the first year that we’ve had a resident working with us for the full year, so that’s been exciting,” Reade said. “We hope to have more long-term residents in the future as well.”

An executive member of the Ontario Medical Association’s Academic Medicine Forum and Rural Expert Panel, Reade has been a director of the WildER Med initiative, a multi-day series of outdoor workshops that teaches wilderness survival techniques to health-care professionals.

She and her colleagues have also organized simulations of health-care scenarios for visiting medical students, teaming up with the talented actors of the Indigenous theatre troupe, Debajehmujig Storytellers, who act the part of mental health patients in a simulated patient interview. Later, the students get patient-centred feedback on their interaction.

Reade said NOSM has encouraged its preceptors to use strengths within their communities to help educate students.

“So, depending on where they are in the North, students have a chance to really have a diverse experience of valuing the people who live and work in their community,” Reade said. “I think that’s pretty important.”

Reade and her husband, Craig Maxwell, have embraced Manitoulin’s natural assets, producing maple syrup from their maple trees in the spring, and kayaking and canoeing in the summer.

Avid outdoor enthusiasts, the pair annually participates in fundraisers for the hospital’s auxiliary, including a 25-year-strong golf tournament and the Tour de Meldrum, a 100-kilometre cycling trip that takes cyclists from Mindemoya to Meldrum Bay and back.

Working collaboratively provides the most career fulfillment for Reade, who said her colleagues are, without question, supportive and available in everything from emergency room work to teaching clinics. She views many of her colleagues as mentors.

“Rural medicine just offers a great way of being part of your community while having an amazing diversity of experiences,” said Reade, noting how readily her patients have embraced learners.

“They’re very generous of spirit and very forward-thinking in realizing what the value of distributed education is at NOSM, and for them to very openly share their stories with us and our learners. I’m very grateful for that.”

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