In Episode 11 I speak to Dr. Janice McLaughlin.  She is family Physician at Valley Care Medical, a Mindfulness Trainer and the Medical Director for the upcoming Comox Valley Youth Foundry.

Janice has always had an interest in medicine and science, before she knew that women could be doctors, she wanted to be a nurse.  By the end of elementary school, she knew she wanted to be a doctor and actively sought out opportunities to learn those skills with activities like lifeguard training. 

A few experiences with friends that were injured or in medical distress helped her to see that she managed well in emergencies. When her friend broke her neck, she found herself naturally taking a leadership role by providing first aid and given direction to the adults around her.

The decision to go into family practise was made for her when she became a mom and realized that she wanted to spend time with her new baby more than she wanted to go into a 5-year surgical residency program.  31 years later she is very glad she made the decision to go into family medicine and it has been a very fulfilling career for her.

Over the years she has delivered almost 600 babies and now those kids are young adults and so in addition to seniors, her practise has a large youth component, which is a demographic she particularly enjoys working with. 

We talked about what COVID changes may stay going forward.  Masks, when in close proximity to patients, and staying home when sick, will likely be one of those things.  She and her staff have not been sick for almost 2 years and incidences of respiratory illness in children and seniors has dropped dramatically.

As a physician she has struggled with how to have empathy and provide the best possible care to patients without being overwhelmed and unable to turn off at the end of the day.  We discussed the idea that compassion can be “empathy with action.” If a care provider can be empathetic with action, without being attached to the outcomes, they can have more resilience and provide better care. Admin staff are also feeling the burnout from COVID, and they have had to hire more staff to keep up with the increased workload. 

She discovered mindfulness training and mediation as a way to cope with her own work stress and anxiety and found it so helpful that she embarked on the training to become a mindfulness practitioner. As a mindfulness educator she is able to offer her own patients more than just prescriptions or long wait times to see therapists and the program she teaches is covered by MSP which makes them easily accessible, even for those with lower incomes.  

When asked what patients can do to make life easier for medical staff, she had a few suggestions: follow your doctors advise, don’t save up a long list, and start with your most important point. Its not uncommon for patients to save the more important and urgent concerns for the end of the visit and by then there is less time left to deal with it. We also discussed the potential long term unintended consequences of missed diagnoses during this time due to delays of patients in bringing up concerns and delayed routine testing such as mammograms.

She excited to be working on a new project as the Medical Director of the up-and-coming Comox Valley Youth Foundry.  Foundry is a provincial program run through Foundry central in Vancouver, and it is essentially a multidisciplinary youth clinic that serve as a physical building for youth services in  communities. Everything is in one spot. There are primary care services, mental health services, substance use services, gender affirming care, employment services, housing services, John Howard and more.

The idea is that youth can enter it at various points. For example, if someone comes in because they are at employment services, if they are struggling with substance use that employment service person would walk them down the hallway to the substance use specialist. It’s publicly funded and there is also a private endowment that provides funding and then each community does its own fundraising as well and a link to donate can be found below.

General Foundry information

For donating to Foundry          

Mindfulness for Youth

Mindfulness for Adults

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