For Dr. Andrew Healey, being a physician is his privilege
By Danielle Milley, OMA Public Affairs
There was a fleeting moment where Dr. Andrew Healey’s path was heading towards a career in teaching, but, luckily, for patients in Ontario he ended up in medicine.
Though he did briefly consider teaching, Dr. Healey had been drawn to medicine from a young age.
“I can’t remember when I started to want to be a doctor. I’ve wanted to be a physician for as long as I can remember,” he says. “The privilege of being present in people’s most intimate moments and being able to offer some relief of suffering always appealed to me.”
After finishing medical school in his native Newfoundland, Dr. Healey came to Ontario to do a fellowship in emergency medicine and critical care in Hamilton. Today, he is the chief of ICU (intensive care unit) at William Osler Health System and an emergency physician at St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton.
“My specialties are unique in that they are not defined by a particular area of medicine, but by the location of my patients. It gives you a much more varied scope of practice, which I found very appealing,” he says of his choice of specialties.
He could be stitching up a cut or resuscitating a patient in the emergency department one day and another day be in the ICU caring for a patient at end-of-life or co-ordinating the care of a patient who suffered a massive heart attack.
For Dr. Healey, his work is rewarding and an honour.
“There is a privilege that we have being physicians – there are moments of reassurance for people and moments of relief of suffering and when I’m part of that and able to offer that, I believe I’ve been able to contribute something to society that is lasting,” he says. “That’s a privilege we have as physicians that few professions share.”
While Dr. Healey’s two positions keep him busy, he is also the Chief Medical Officer with Trillium Gift of Network, the provincial agency that oversees organ and tissue donation. In that position, he works with the 59 donation physicians and five regional medical leads at hospitals across the province in trying to improve end-of-life care as it relates to organ donation.
Dr. Healey knows firsthand the benefits of organ donation. When his daughter was four months old, she received a living liver transplant from his wife and he was able to see the impact of transplantation personally. Now through his position with TGLN, he is able to see the amazing impact donation and transplantation have on families – both of the recipient and the donor.
“The impressive strength and generosity families show during these really terrible times of tragedy and loss through their willingness to consent to organ and tissue donation, is something that is really remarkable to me,” he says.
In addition to his multiple work commitments, Dr. Healey is married with four young children.
This article originally appeared in our monthly e-newsletter, Spotlight on Health.
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