Feature Story

A well-rounded career in medicine

Dr. Elizabeth Shouldice ('00) addresses opioid crisis in west-end Ottawa with new clinic
By: Melissa Lombard

Dr. Elizabeth Shouldice says Mount Allison is the best life decision she ever made. Coming from Ottawa, ON, she was looking for a small university experience that was well-rounded.

“I saw being well-rounded as my own strength, so I was looking for that in a university,” she says. “I liked that I could take a bit of any subject I wanted.”

With an eye on medicine, Shouldice studied biology and pursued an honours in the area of invertebrate zoology, which took her back and forth to St. Andrews, NB for research.

“I wanted a place where I could really immerse myself and get an in depth educational experience,” she says. “I worked hard and I learned so much as an undergraduate.”

What she discovered at Mount Allison is that medicine is about a lot more than science.

“My experiences at Mount Allison led me to understand the value of studying both arts and sciences. Medicine is an art form and there are many things I draw on and talk about in my career now that I learned from my classes and experiences at Mount A,” she says.

Shouldice went on to study family medicine at Dalhousie University, an emergency residency at the University of Ottawa, and a Master’s in Public Health at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore. She is now a full-time emergency physician in Ottawa, the medical director of the paramedic clinic at Algonquin College, and does advocacy work with the Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians.

Most recently, she opened an opioid clinic in the west end of Ottawa along with three other physicians. The clinic also has an addictions counsellor and a nurse on staff.

“In the emergency room we would see patients with addictions and have nowhere to send them,” she says. “We recognized there was a crisis in this area of the city, but no avenue to deal with it.”

For Shouldice, the most surprising part of the clinic has been that there is no typical patient.

“This disease truly affects all walks of life,” she says. “We are really hoping to break down stigmas with this clinic as there is no face of addiction.”

The depth and breadth of the problem in west-end Ottawa has also taken her and her colleagues by surprise.

“We are remarkably busier than we expected to be,” she says. “It is rewarding to build relationships with these patients and see them get better and back to their regular lives.”

Along with a busy work schedule, Shouldice also has a busy life at home. She and her husband Jordan Clark, a pharmacist, have two children, Sam, 6, and Noah, 3. Shouldice says she learned proper time management for her busy schedule at Mount Allison, along with the importance of setting limits, being organized, and taking the time to recharge.

“My life definitely requires a lot of scheduling,” she says. “I reorganize my schedule a lot because I learned in my third year at Mount Allison — and still live by this today — that balance for me is dynamic and not static. Some weeks I am too busy and off kilter. Other weeks are fine. If you expect things in your life to be static all the time, you won’t be able to find balance.”

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