BY JAMIU BUSARI (@JOBUSAR)
Connie LeBlanc, MD, CCFP(EM), MA(Ed), MBA, CCIPTM
Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine; Dalhousie University. President and CEO, Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada; Co-Chair, The International Summit on Leadership Education for Physicians
Dr. Connie LeBlanc is an emergency medicine physician who has worked in adult tertiary care Emergency Medicine for over three decades. “I love the clinical work of Emergency Medicine, its undifferentiated presentations, seeing the breadth of the human condition and caring for anxious, stressed people,” she says, bubbling with untiring enthusiasm. Besides her job as an emergency medicine physician, Dr. LeBlanc is also a clinician educator, a professor of emergency medicine and a scholar in Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity and Medical Education at Dalhousie University. In addition, she has recently been appointed president and CEO of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada.
Dr. LeBlanc earned a Master of Arts in Education from Mount Saint Vincent University in 2007, completed a Master of Business Administration & Technology from Quantic University in Washington DC in 2021, and gained a Certification in Equity, Diversity, Inclusivity and Accessibility from the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion in 2023, all while providing care in the Emergency Department. She says she loves to learn new things, and although these formal certifications are not necessary as a Professor of Emergency Medicine or to serve as President and CEO, I am sort of nerdy like that. “Before you think I am all work, I also hold a Black Belt in Karate and an Advanced SCUBA certification,” she says. Dr. LeBlanc is also a runner and loves to bake, too, you can see the live fast trend here.
Never a Dull moment
Dr LeBlanc describes Emergency medicine as fun, challenging, rewarding, chaotic, sad, and interesting, but never dull. Explaining that there are few professions or jobs that could ever provide this wealth of exposure to the human condition. As emergency care physicians, we have a backstage pass to life and see people in their true form: unplanned, afraid, and vulnerable. Their “emergency”, upends their plans enough to incite them to see a stranger-doctor in an unfamiliar setting, and that, is nobody’s best day. Sharing this perspective with learners, enjoying patients, supporting them, and working together towards a diagnosis and a plan all bring this work to life.
Dr. LeBlanc recently took on the role of President and CEO of the Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada, which is the voice of academic medicine in Canada. She finds this role very exciting and devotes most of her time to it. Being new to this position, she feels it provides ample challenge and excitement. “With new relationships, national and international committees and collaborations, and a large international congress to plan, it is fair to say that I have not been bored”! She says with a smile.
Dr. LeBlanc continues her scholarship in medical education as well as in equity, diversity, and inclusivity because it speaks to the core of her values. This takes about one day of her time each week. She is very active in this work across its many facets and across borders to broaden participation in medicine and in healthcare for those who remain underrepresented.
Finally, Dr. LeBlanc continues to work in the Emergency Department of The Charles V. Keating Emergency and Trauma Centre every week and some weekends. This accounts for about five days each month working clinically. “We have learners with us on shift and work to help others understand the physicians’ role in providing good medical care and support to patients and communities.” Dr. LeBlanc mentors many medical learners, ranging from students to faculty, on scholarship, education, and coping with life. She says that life is not always smooth sailing as a doctor, and we do a fantastic job of hiding this in medicine. The Chinese have a proverb that goes something like this: “We are like ducks looking all smooth and easy as we glide on the water’s surface while we are pedaling furiously to keep up underwater, our work unseen by others.” Our colleagues need to hear and see this, everyone struggles at some point, and when they do, it is OK to reach out and get support.
Generalist at heart
Dr LeBlanc describes herself a generalist by choice. “I draw energy from engaging in new and exciting things.” Some potential consequences of this appetite for the shiny and the new include not completing tasks, lack of attention to detail, and getting too busy from FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out- for the nerds in the crowd)”. Connie has come to value and enjoy mitigating these risks through working with teams and people who are very attentive to detail and by including those who will drive a project to completion as collaborators. She also learned that “no” is a complete sentence. This has taken her years, and she believes FOMO should stand for ‘Fear Of Migrating Overboard.'”
In response to having any difficulty with the diversity in her work, Connie said that work-life integration requires a delicate balance. I have moved back and forth in work hours and intensity of commitments and travel to meet the needs of young, then teenage, and now adult children. I purposefully make time for friends and for my partner, who is the best support and my best friend. Striving to include family in travel and adding bits of fun and adventure on business trips has been a successful strategy for me. It has not always been easy, and I have not always gotten this balance right for sure. I return from real vacation with the next one planned. She concludes, saying, “Striking a balance between juggling and focusing will always be at the leading edge for me.”
Three tips for junior CEs
- Do things you love: Others will do the things you don’t love better than you every single time.
- Don’t ever be arrogant enough to believe you can’t be replaced by someone else: Make time for the people you care about- they are seldom your colleagues, honestly. Your colleagues will not remember you worked overtime in ten years, but your kids and partner will.
- Enjoy the small stuff: smiles, wins, bloopers, and challenges- life is short!
The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of The University of Ottawa. For more details on our site disclaimers, please see our ‘About’ page