Family medicine is a precise discipline, integrating biomedical, behavioural and social sciences, while employing a range of cognitive and procedural skills. Family physicians provide care from dedicated offices, hospitals, clinics and long-term care facilities. 


In McGill University’s Family Medicine residency program residents rotate through in-hospital services including internal medicine, pediatrics, obstetrics and psychiatry. They also develop their supervised practices. 


Forging connections with patients 


After sampling the various specialties during med school, recent McGill Medical School graduate Noor Mady, MDCM, chose family medicine for her residency, “Because I felt drawn to various medical specialties including obstetrics, gynaecology and psychiatry, I knew family medicine would be the most fitting since it encompasses all patients and is really the first stop for most patients. Personally, family practice creates an opportunity to build long term connections with my patients. I have the opportunity to touch on all aspects of health, including physical, mental and social well-being.” 


Dealing with social well-being often invites a certain level of advocacy from family practitioners, in particular in underserved communities, for instance. “Family doctors try to reach populations that are particularly disadvantaged,” Dr. Mady notes. “Many family doctors work with newcomers to Canada who come from war settings or very difficult circumstances, and it’s up to us to help them settle in and to navigate possible traumas, while supporting their journey towards well-being. 


Doctors perform social advocacy at various levels, from attending public policy meetings to providing global health expertise. What’s nice is we can all find our way to advocate socially and contribute in different ways.”  


From Ottawa to Outaouais 


Having earned her medical degree from the University of Ottawa, Camée L’Espérance, MD, also joined McGill’s residency program this summer, in Outaouais. The newly minted doctor recalls her intense training. “Medical school is not easy. We have to put in long hours. We have to make sure that we are doing the readings because we want to help patients to better understand their conditions. Once we start clerkship, we then go into the hospital.”  


Dr. L’Espérance finished her third year of medical school on a rotation with five full weeks in family medicine. “That’s where I was like, ‘oh, that’s what I’m going to do. That’s what I want to be.’ We’re the first line. This is where patients are vulnerable, and I really want to be there to help them. You get to develop relationships with the patient. That is the basis of family medicine and preventative medicine.” 


Once established, in addition to providing primary care, Dr. L’Espérance says her job will involve linking patients with allied health professionals. “In family medicine, you’re in a great position to make sure that your patient has access to other professionals who are experts in what they do, which enables us to help in all the spheres of health that are really important. It’s not just physical health, it is also psychological. Everything must come together to make sure our patients are healthy.” 


Dedicated to helping women across the lifespan 


Hailing from Venezuela, Natalia González, MD, took a different route to her family medicine residency at McGill. Trained in her home country in obstetrics and gynecology, and endocrinology, Dr. González moved to Montreal for a position as a clinical research coordinator in oncology at Saint Mary’s Hospital’s Research Center. From there she later conducted research in obstetrics and gynecology at the Royal Victoria Hospital.  


Family medicine offers Dr. González the opportunity to continue to provide care for women. “In a way, family medicine is similar to obgyn, because you’re able to see patients from their teenage years through their retirement. You can follow the patient and establish a relationship with them. 


“I’m super excited about this program. McGill is one of the best universities in the world. So for me, this is a dream come true. I know that I’m at the right place to become a better doctor.”