21291 Jennifer Purdy took an unusual route to attend RMC. The Kanata, ON native attended two years at Queen’s University in Nursing Science before starting 1st year at RMC
Her reasoning for switching from Queen’s was not that usual either.
“Honestly, I didn’t want to continue in nursing and didn’t want to have to look for a part-time job (it was during the Ontario recession aka Rae Days of the early 90s).”
Jen eventually entered RMC in 1994.
Memories from first year:
Year 1: at BOTC (Chilliwack), doing bee-lines around buildings so I could avoid encountering anyone, as I did not understand rank and did not know who to salute.
“Doggie Night” during recruit term, when the 2nd years took care of us 1st years in 6 Sqn. Getting caught sleeping in Economics class using the astrocan as a pillow. Bringing Timbits to French class every time I was late (brought a lot of Timbits that year).
When was your grad year?
1998: Too many memories, the night we went to the local country bar on Princess Street and tried to “steal” Tim McGraw (a cut-out… we were unsuccessful and got kicked out). This might have been Nancy Nicholls’ (now Setchell) birthday celebration.
Graduation day. Favourite profs include Dr. McKeown, now retired, Dr. Bonnycastle, now retired, Dr. Hurley (who I recently saw at my retirement shin-dig), and Dr. Paul-Andre Lagueux.
Then MWO Mills taught drill and had a wicked sense of humour.
What do you consider your biggest challenge(s) while attending RMC?
Structure, learning discipline, physical fitness, learning to manage time well.
I served in CAF, RegF, first as a health care administrator at 5 Fd Amb, 12 Med Coy (Vancouver), 16 Med Coy (Regina), 1 Dent U HQ (Ottawa).
Then went to medical school and residency (U of Ottawa), and served in Trenton, then at 2 Fd Amb and 1 Cdn Fd Hosp (both Petawawa), finishing at CFHS HQ in Ottawa (Directorate of Mental Health).
My highlights were working with 2 RCHA and other Bde units in Petawawa, and my week flying and getting exposed to 427 Tac Hel Sqn as part of my Flight Surgeon’s Course.
Post CAF time?
Released 15 Feb 2018, did some skiing in Ottawa (Camp Fortune), relaxing, and renovating a clinic. Just opened the clinic, Ottawa Lifestyle Medicine, 1 May 2018. Still setting up administration for it!
What are some of the greatest challenges you’ve faced? How did you overcome them?
I had some serious health challenges when I was in medical school, and I credit my time and my experience at RMC for giving me the tools to get through medical school in spite of the significant challenges.
I have also had some challenges working as a GDMO (General Duties Medical Officer). I feel that thanks to RMC, and to the friends and connections that I developed at RMC, I was better able to navigate through challenging circumstances in a branch that has fewer leaders who have been exposed to RMC or significant leadership training and development.
What are some of the accomplishments you are most proud of?
I am most proud of the work I did with patients and with units, working to bridge the communications gap that sometimes exist between medical and the rest of the CAF world.
It was really important to me to try and offer UMS-style service to our stakeholders, so that they could have a medical person who they could reliably contact who would help them figure out prognosis, how to employ a member, etc.
Who have been the most influential mentors in your life?
I did not experience mentorship in my branch, but I am grateful because over the years, through either discussions or just by setting examples quietly, I have learned from my friends, like Eleanor Taylor, Barbara Honig, Heather Morrison, Tanya Thordarson, Jen Causey (nee Wall), Sonny Hatton, and others (it is no coincidence that these are all RMC alumni).
I also learned much by observing LCol Dan Bobbitt, former CO of 2 RCHA, as he dealt with some tricky situations, and it was amazing how he dealt with issues deftly, discreetly, but firmly as needed. I learned some very good lessons.
What would you describe as a turning point in your life?
-going to RMC, because it is true, after that, everything including medical school is easier!
-becoming a doctor
-deciding to pursue my passion of lifestyle medicine and releasing from the CAF
What are your goals for the future?
My only goal is to use lifestyle medicine to help people prevent, treat, and reverse chronic diseases. I intend to serve the rest of my life in this setting, helping people who in many cases will be suffering, but also helping people who want to do what they can to avoid suffering.
I will be providing medical care, but also speaking publicly, doing workshops, etc., so that people know what lifestyle medicine is and understand that this is an accessible and evidence-based option.
Applying lifestyle medicine principles to myself, I hope to preserve and improve my own health and well-being, and live my best life.
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