Hey Residents! This month, we chatted with Dr. Meagan McKeen, PGY-1 Family Medicine Resident. Dr. McKeen was happy to talk to us about a quality improvement project she worked on, her joy for working in rural communities, and passion for the outdoors and sports!
During medical school, you and a classmate worked on a quality improvement project involving patients and families in making care safer. Could you tell me a bit more about the project: what inspired you and your classmate to start it, and how was your experience developing it?
My classmate Liz Pharo and I worked on this project starting in second year of medical school. It was a tool that BC Children’s Hospital (BCCH) had initially piloted called “The Patient’s View”. It was the first of its kind, because it included patients and families in adverse event reporting. Through a pilot study they were able to show that that patients and families could report safety concerns that were not otherwise documented by health care professionals. Basically, they were saying that families who observe their kids really closely on the pediatrics ward had a lot to bring to the table when it comes to making care safer, and they should be an important part of our team for safety discussions.
I was a volunteer before medical school at BCCH and was lucky enough to be part of the early stages of that project. I saw how validated families felt being able to provide that kind of input, and the fantastic practical outcomes that emerged from that kind of feedback. So, in medical school, Liz and I were able to bring the Patient’s View tool to Island Health, on the paediatrics ward at Victoria General Hospital.
You are currently a family medicine resident in Victoria, but hope to do a full-service practice in maternity care in a rural setting. What drew you to rural medicine?
I really love the full-service nature of working in a rural community. I was lucky enough in my third year of medical school to go to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. Aside from being an absolutely unique setting—you’re in the Arctic; it was almost 24 hours of daylight while I was up there; you’re immersed in two really rich First Nations cultures (the Inuvialuit and Gwich’in peoples)—the medicine aspect of it is also unlike anywhere else. You get to be in the Emergency Room, in the clinic, doing maternity care… it’s just really full-service. I loved the variety and I loved the people that you get to meet in all kinds of different scenarios as a result of that. It keeps you on your toes!
Following up on your hope to practice in a rural community, what would you say is the greatest part of providing rural care?
That’s a tough one! I think it’s the notion of being a true general practitioner for me. When you’re in a more remote setting, a lot more falls on you to navigate the system for your patients and figure out what you’re comfortable with doing, and how to get answers if you’re not comfortable. It’s really about being a problem solver. Of course, general practitioners in bigger centres do that too, but they’re a lot more supported. I love being the advocate who goes to bat for my patients, and explores and learns through the process.
On top of Residency, you are an active athlete. You’ve completed several triathlons and run races, including the Ironman 70.3 Victoria Triathlon, wherein you placed 3rd in your age group, and have done many hikes around the province—such as the West Coast Trail—and internationally. What has been your favourite event or hike, so far, and what does being so involved in sports and nature mean to you?
My favourite hike so far is probably the West Coast Trail. It’s on the west coast of Vancouver Island, with a beautiful and unique ecosystem. I’ve actually done the Trail twice now. I had the chance to do it with a couple of my friends from medical school during medical school, and then again with my parents and my partner. It was very different each time. The first time there was quite a bit more rain, and the second time we had more sunny, gorgeous weather. It was great to see how the coastline changes over that 75km stretch. Every kilometer has something different to offer: from forests with massive trees to beaches and rocks that look like you’re walking on the surface of the moon.
With sports, I consider myself to be a tri-athlete by accident. I really like running and through high school I did cross country. In university I got involved in triathlon because it was a really good way to cross-train for running, and I also enjoy swimming and biking. I did the Ironman 70.3 in Victoria when I first moved here, and there’s a really fantastic culture and community around triathlon in Victoria. It was neat to feel a part of that. Plus I got to experience all the beautiful parts of the island while training.