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Know your neighbour: Stephanie Rutherford

Posted by Tyler Hall on February 14, 2019 in Community

I was hired as a Simulated Patient Educator when Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick first opened in 2010. I am one of two SPE’s here with my colleague Tricia Cole.  Some of our duties include training simulated patients and running communication skills for med 1-4 students. We also coordinate volunteer patients to work with the skilled clinician program. Tricia and I divide and conquer, covering simulation, procedural skills, communication skills, OSCE’s, and skilled clinician.

Prior to coming to Dalhousie, I was a physiotherapist at Horizon Health Network. I graduated from Dalhousie University with my Bachelor in Physiotherapy in 2000 and graduated from the University of New Brunswick in 1997 with my Bachelor of Science in Biology.  I am honoured to work for my alma mater Dalhousie University and to be working on the UNB campus in Saint John.

What are you passionate about?

I am passionate about people in general. When I worked as a physiotherapist, the part of my career I enjoyed the most was making meaningful contact with patients and being present. It was difficult to do as there were many in-patients to see in one day, but I would always try to find that 5 to 10 minutes to make a personal connection with all my patients. It meant a lot to them and gave me more job satisfaction.

At DMNB, I work with healthy patients for the most part and I get to see them on a regular basis. I love the connections that I have made. We have some volunteers and simulated patients that have been with us for 9 years! They feel like family and I look forward to chatting with them when they come to sessions. I get very close to them and share in their joys and sadness.

What is the most important thing you have learned while working at Dalhousie?

I think one of the most important things I have learned while working at Dalhousie is that I’m not going to do everything “perfect” nor should I strive to feel I have to. I always had a type A personality and wanted to please everyone and make everything perfect to the point that it was making me ill both physically and mentally. I work with some great colleagues who have taught me that it’s ok to make mistakes and accept the things that I can’t change; to let it go and not carry that burden. Things change often here with curriculum and I have learned to just let it go!

What was your biggest challenge this past year?

Hmm..there have been a few. I think this past year, one of the biggest challenges has been juggling home life and work life. I live outside the city and have 3 kids, that all need to be dropped off to 3 different locations in the morning. Sometimes my morning commute can be well over 90 minutes which is hard to believe since I only live 20 minutes from my work. Juggling the 3 kids, managing a house, and working full time is a challenge all on its own. Work to be honest has become a place of refuge some days since I work with such great people.  

What are you passionate about personally? What do you really enjoy? What can’t you stop talking about?

I love to travel. I am always planning the next adventure from cruises to Vegas to even just a weekend get-away to Halifax. I love that my job here at DMNB also provides continuing education opportunities which have enabled me to travel to some cities that I probably would normally have never visited.  I also love adventure….I love theme parks, 4 wheeling, zip lines and have even tried bungee jumping!

Where can we find you when you’re not working? 

 When I’m not working, I am usually found home with my kids and my fiancé. We just moved into a new house this past fall and are enjoying it immensely. We are looking forward to the warmer weather so we can get outside and enjoy our property. My kids keep me busy, but my fiancé and I do like to get out and have a glass of wine, listen to live music, play poker, and travel. We also spend all our free time in the summer at our trailer at a campground in Hampton. It’s only 20 minutes from our house which is so convenient to get away. We love the comradery with our fellow campers and the kids love the pool.

Tell us about someone who has had a large influence on you and your work at Dalhousie.

 This is a tough one to answer as I cannot just name one person. All my co workers have influenced me in various ways. I have had so much personal growth in the last 9 years just from the encouragement of my coworkers. I feel very fortunate to be working at DMNB.

What has surprised you most about working at Dalhousie?

 I am most surprised at the community at Dalhousie. I know I am repeating myself a bit, but I really do work with a great group of people. I feel like everyone is supportive and wants you to do your best. I love that Dalhousie offers such a great work life providing such job satisfaction. I was thrilled with the educational opportunities and Dalhousie has supported me in getting my Master of Adult Education from UNB in 2015. This was so rewarding and would never have been possible without the support of Dal.

Hidden talent?

Well I don’t have any wonderful singing or musical talents, but I do love to chalk paint. I love taking old furniture and transforming them into something beautiful. I have painted kitchen cupboards, dressers, shelving units and even a rocking chair. There is something rewarding about painting away the ugliness. I find painting peaceful and I always feel accomplished after I finish a piece.

How would (someone) describe you?

 I think most people would describe me as hyper! I am usually full of energy and bouncing from idea to idea. I think I have undiagnosed ADHD but I am able to multitask and can usually get a lot done. I am a bit sensitive though as well and can take things to personally which is something I am working on.

What problems do you consistently solve?

Well, I am usually running skilled clinician so I am always trying to solve last minute issues that can arise when a volunteer doesn’t come, or a tutor is late. Other so-called problems could be related to curriculum and OSCEs with which we are constantly solving problems, but I work with a great team in Saint John and in Halifax….so the solving is a group effort!

What does the DPMG mean to you?

DPMG means support to me. I feel like there is a group of people available to assist and help with all aspects of our career as needed. People to go to for continuing education, advice and for fun! I love going to the conference every June and having guest speakers come. I find it very informative and appreciate all the work that goes into this conference. I am on the outreach committee and love feeling connected to Halifax since we are so much further away. I appreciate all the effort that DPMG has put forth to connect Saint John and Truro to all the meetings.