“You don’t have to leave home to find need” – Dr. Jenna Haugen

Dina Baras CPSA

The 2016 recipient of the Dr. Bryan Ward Memorial Award, Dr. Jenna Haugen, reflects on rural medicine from her perspective as a new family doctor in Yellowknife. 

Born and raised in Calgary, Dr. Haugen spent a lot of time in the city. Her appreciation for rural practice blossomed in the middle of medical school, where she completed the rural integrated clerkship program in Rocky Mountain House. “That experience gave me a love for the breadth and depth of rural practice and planted a seed that I returned to several years later.”

Building clinical skills & personal connections

Serving a rural community is a package deal. Dr. Haugen has developed clinical skills and been afforded an opportunity to live a totally different (but very Canadian) way of life. “I’m still getting used to bumping into patients in the grocery store or the park”.


Improving access to care

It’s not uncommon for physicians to leave Canada to help in underserviced communities. “You don’t have to leave home to find need”, she notes. “I chose rural medicine because I want to use medicine as a tool to meet the needs of people with limited access to care or significant social barriers to health”.

“I chose rural medicine because I want to use medicine as a tool to meet the needs of people with limited access to care or significant social barriers to health”

Being part of a high performing team

Health care is a team sport and has been for many years. Patient care is optimized when physicians engage in high performing teams and all the players bring distinct skills to the table. Dr. Haugen’s practice serves a unique population where health care resources are scarce. According to Dr. Haugen, the only way to do that effectively is through collaboration. “I’ve grown to love the teamwork in rural practice. The whole of patient care has to be distributed among a finite number of practitioners.” The need to work together is amplified.


Now in Yellowknife
For Dr. Haugen, Yellowknife is the perfect place to engage in a high performing team, serve a community with its own unique obstacles, continue developing her skills and to enjoy a uniquely Canadian way of life. “Outside practice, I dabble in as many outdoor activities as I can find.  Ultimate Frisbee, hiking, camping, paddle boarding, and I’m looking forward to taking up more of the lake activities that Yellowknifers capitalize on so well”.


The Dr. Bryan Ward Memorial Endowment Fund is awarded annually to a medical student or resident with interest in rural family practice and professionalism.  Dr. Ward was a champion for rural family practice, spending 15 years serving a rural community before transitioning to administrative medicine with the CPSA as Deputy Registrar To recognize Bryan’s many contributions to the medical profession, and to encourage students and residents to choose rural family practice, the College and University of Calgary created the Dr. Bryan Ward Memorial Endowment Fund in 2014. For more information, or to donate, go to: Dr. Bryan Ward Memorial Endowment Fund.