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Dr. Katharine Smart: Speaking out for Canadians—and healthcare workers

Dr. Katharine Smart was selected by her peers for the Media Engagement Award – Changemaker in the Medical Post Awards.
11/11/2022
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Dr. Katharine Smart
Why she won

Pediatrician Dr. Katharine Smart took up the post as president of CMA at a challenging time in healthcare: August 2021. In the tumultuous months since then, Dr. Smart has participated in more than 350 media interviews for outlets such as CBC and CTV, fiercely advocating for Canada’s healthcare workers and Canadians generally. In addition to these interviews, Dr. Smart has written for the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star on Canada’s healthcare crisis. She has gone viral after sharing her thoughts on COVID-19 and Canada’s healthcare system on both Twitter and Instagram, where she boasts a combined 25,000 followers.

Dr. Smart, who makes her home in Whitehorse, primarily serves marginalized children who have experienced childhood trauma. Several of Dr. Smart’s past articles and media appearances focused on promoting the COVID-19 vaccine as a means of protection for young children. In an unprecedented time when healthcare workers looked to leadership for support and direction more than ever before, Dr. Smart stepped up to the plate and was a voice for physicians all over the country.

Read: Awesome docs: The Medical Post Awards celebrate Canada’s physicians

What one judge said…

“We were fortunate to have many well-spoken, responsive and thoughtful doctors leading our medical associations during the pandemic, but none of them captured the attention of television, social media, radio and print media like Dr. Katharine Smart did—sending clear and engaging messages.”

Q&A

What has been most gratifying about this work? Most challenging?

The most gratifying for me has been hearing from colleagues that what I did and said as CMA president made them feel seen, heard and supported. Being described by other physicians as authentic, courageous and inspiring made me feel like I achieved what I set out to do. The most challenging was dealing with online attacks and harassment. 

What are you most proud of in terms of your career?

First, I am proud of how I leveraged my platform as CMA president to speak out about science, COVID-19 and the challenges to our healthcare system during a critical time in history. Second, I am proud of my work as a pediatrician in the Yukon where I believe our team has dramatically improved access and quality of care for children and youth.

No pressure, but… what’s next?

Whatever I do next, I want to make a difference for Canadians. I want to improve the information they receive about health and science and be part of transforming our healthcare system into something where physicians, other providers and patients can thrive. 

What’s something about yourself you’re working to improve?

Managing my excessive passion syndrome. It propels me, but passion can be a two-edged sword. I have to be attentive to managing my emotions so that I can make rational decisions and show up as the best version of myself.  

How do you turn around a bad day?

Gratitude. I try to take control of negative thoughts, remind myself that I decide what I think about and refocus on things to be grateful for. A Peloton workout also helps. 

When it comes to stress, what’s the best medicine?

Time with friends and family, exercise, laughter and re-focusing on my purpose and my “why.” 

What brings you joy?

So many things: my children, music, dancing, travel, learning new things, a new challenge, being at the centre of chaos, and meeting colleagues from across the country.  

What’s your secret indulgence?

Chocolate—preferably as ice cream

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