VPSA celebrates the work of women physicians

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In anticipation of International Women’s Day 2020, the Vancouver Physician Staff Association canvassed members for the names of women physicians who have made extraordinary contributions to the workplace. We salute all our female members and invite you to read about the women who agreed to be profiled this year.

Dr. Sujaatha Narayanan
Dr. Narayanan is the medical director of the Leukemia/Bone Marrow Transplant Program of British Columbia.

She graduated from medical school in India before moving to the United Kingdom. There she completed training in internal medicine, hematology and hematopathology. Motivated by the desire to improve outcomes for patients with aggressive hematological malignancy, Dr. Narayanan pursued additional training through a fellowship in bone marrow transplantation in the UK before moving to Canada in 2006. She underwent further training at the L/BMT Program of BC before joining as an attending physician in December 2007. Over the years, she has held several leadership positions within the program including being the fellowship program director and quality director before starting her current role as medical director in December 2018.

When not at work, Dr. Narayanan can be found with her husband (a family physician) and two sons aged 9 and 10 who are their absolute pride and joy.

What advice would you give to young women considering entering medicine in 2020?
“This is a phenomenal career and vocation to have and you should be very proud of yourselves. A career in medicine does, however, mean making some hard choices. You have to determine what is important to you at any given time point (i.e., career advancement versus family/children) and be happy with the choices you are making. Although you cannot have everything at the same time, you can achieve all your goals over time with patience, hard work and perseverance.”

Dr. Laura Knebel
Dr. Knebel received her medical degree from the University of Calgary in 2004 and completed family practice residency at the University of Ottawa in 2006. She subsequently practiced in a variety of mostly Indigenous communities in Ontario and Nunavut for the next four years before moving to British Columbia. Since October 2010, Dr. Knebel has been a family physician at the Downtown Community Health Centre located in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside community. She took over as medical coordinator there in 2017.

Dr. Knebel loves running, dance, and travel and is passionate about social justice, particularly as it pertains to health. Her greatest accomplishment to date is raising her two beautiful children, James and Hazel.

What advice would you give to young women considering entering medicine in 2020?
“I would tell any young woman entering medicine to stay true to who they are and not let others tell them that showing emotions is a sign of weakness. The capacity to truly be vulnerable is one of the biggest gifts you can bring to the practice of medicine, but this is something that is often discouraged in our medical culture. By being emotionally available and present with patients, you will allow them the chance to truly be seen and your work will be enriched and deepened. Also, there is an amazing community of women in healthcare who have gone before and will be there to lift you up.”

Dr. Marthe Kenny Charles
Dr. Charles is the head of Medical Microbiology and Infection Prevention and Control at VCH.

She was born in Montréal and decided to become a microbiologist at the age of seven after reading a book about Louis Pasteur. She graduated from the Université de Montreal with a bachelor’s degree in microbiology and immunology (2006), a master’s degree in microbiology, and a medical degree (2010). Hearing the calling from the beautiful lands of the West, she went on to do her residency in Edmonton. Dr. Charles completed her training in 2016 and is now a certified medical microbiologist and an infectious diseases specialist.

When not in the laboratory or at the bedside of a patient, Dr. Charles enjoys long hikes, skating, dancing salsa, or reading the most recent bestseller.

What advice would you give to young women considering entering medicine in 2020?
“Listen to your inner voice and believe in yourself and your abilities. Find a good mentor to help you in your path but also don’t forget to pay it forward as you will surely inspire others on that path. Don’t be afraid to seek a place at the (leadership) table, and once you reach it remember that your voice and opinion has value.”

Dr. Janine Hardial
Dr. Hardial is a graduate of UBC’s Medical School and Family Medicine Program. She has always had an interest in maternity, women’s health, and marginalized populations. After graduation, she spent several years as a full-service family physician in rural communities and throughout the Lower Mainland. Dr. Hardial is currently the medical coordinator of the Sheway Clinic in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside neighbourhood. She provides obstetrical, family, and addictions care at several sites including Sheway, the Perinatal Addiction Service, and the Fir Outpatient Clinic at BC Women’s Hospital. She feels fortunate to be able to work in a profession that she loves, particularly being able to care for families during pregnancy and birth, which is the favourite part of her work life.

Dr. Hardial loves to travel and spends as much time in the outdoors as possible.

Dr. Jacqueline Trudeau
Dr. Trudeau is an anesthesiologist at Vancouver General and UBC hospitals.

She moved to Vancouver from Winnipeg in 1997 to complete a PhD in immunology at BC Children’s Hospital. Seeing the profound difference that clinicians can make motivated her to pursue medicine. She now practices as an anesthesiologist with a special interest in transfusion medicine and quality improvement. Dr. Trudeau is involved with the liver transplant program and works closely with the transfusion medicine service to improve blood product provision and utilization. She is also passionate about advocating for making a career in medicine possible for moms and dads alike.

Dr. Trudeau loves climbing, running and skiing in the mountains of B.C., especially with her husband and two children.

What advice would you give to young women considering entering medicine in 2020?
“Working in medicine is a very rewarding career. The complex working environments that we all work in are dynamic, and how they function should change over time in response to the needs of both patients and their caregivers. The health of both is equally important. When the system is not working for you or your patients, don’t be afraid to be a part of the solution that works toward change.”

Dr. Kimberly Merkli
Dr. Merkli is a primary care physician and the medical coordinator at Pender Community Health Centre in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver. She has worked there since 2010, and in the medical coordinator role since 2015. Dr. Merkli went to medical school at the University of British Columbia and is now a UBC clinical instructor. During her family medicine residency at St. Paul’s Hospital, she developed a keen interest in primary care management of mental health, substance use, and infectious disease issues. In her leadership role, Dr. Merkli is currently focused on psychological safety and team-based care.

Outside of work, Dr. Merkli enjoys being outside with her husband and two young children.

What advice would you give to young women considering entering medicine in 2020?
“Kindness and compassion go a long way. Share them freely with your patients, your colleagues and yourself.”

Dr. Heather Lindsay
Dr. Lindsay is the first female department head and medical director for the Emergency Department at Vancouver General Hospital and the UBC Urgent Care Centre. She has worked at VGH as an emergency physician since 2013, where she was formally the director for continuous quality improvement for the Emergency Department. Dr. Lindsay received her medical training at Queen’s University and completed her Royal College residency in emergency medicine at the University of Toronto. During her residency, she completed a master’s degree in public health from UBC with a focus in injury prevention and disaster management. She is also a graduate of the BC Clinician Quality Academy. Since joining VGH, she has used her expertise in quality improvement to lead several interdepartmental and interprofessional projects, including the development of a change in process that has led to patients getting an ECG in a quarter of the time. Her focus is quality and process improvement, and she also has an interest in technology and innovation in healthcare and medical education.

When she is not at work, Dr. Lindsay can be found on the slopes skiing or snowboarding, or pretty much anywhere else outside.

What advice would you give to young women considering entering medicine in 2020?
“One, your support network is everything. Find a mentor. Find a lot of mentors. Once you have a critical mass with a shared goal, you can raise the bar of expectation. Two, learn to recognize and acknowledge your own strengths. We’re trained to wait until someone else tells us we’re ready for something. Don’t wait. Decide what you want to be ready for and find people to help you get there.”

Dr. Maja Segedi
As a hepato-pancreato-biliary and liver transplant surgeon at VGH, Dr. Segedi’s passion is making people’s lives better through considerate surgical management of their disease. She strives to help empower patients and help them feel in control of their wellbeing and their surgical journey. Her core values of respect, kindness, innovation, and the pursuit of excellence are her daily guide. Dr. Segedi received her medical degree from the University of Toronto in 2005 as well as a master’s degree in public health from Harvard in 2009. She has done volunteer and research placements in Ghana and Tanzania, working with women and children in marginalized and impoverished communities. She mentors medical and undergrad students in research and established a prospective surgical database for pancreas cancer surgery and liver transplantation.

Dr. Segedi’s balances her busy Vancouver practice with her other passions: her family and enjoying life. With the help of her husband, she has an active family life with two small children. They enjoy participating and attending community cultural events, skiing, and travelling when possible.

What advice would you give to young women considering entering medicine in 2020?
“Know yourself, your values, and priorities (they are your compass). Be kind and humble in your interactions with patients, colleagues and yourself. Be the main director of your life story—you only get one.”


The Vancouver Physician Staff Association recognizes that effective organizations depend on diverse and cohesive leadership. In 2018 and 2019, VPSA brought together physicians, administrative leaders from Vancouver Coastal Health, Providence Heath Care, UBC’s Faculty of Medicine, and other healthcare organizations for two appreciative inquires and several meetings to address the lack of female medical leadership. The purpose was to share the leadership experiences of women physicians and consider a future where women and men physicians in all their diversity participate together and equally in strong leadership roles. VPSA now works alongside VCH on the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee to oversee the work outlined in the action plan entitled Using All our Talents.

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