Grad Profile: Pressing reset on a 17‑year career

Stacy Hanninen, Faculty of Medicine

- May 27, 2019

Stacy Hanninen will pursue her residency in family medicine in the Annapolis Valley. (Provided photo)
Stacy Hanninen will pursue her residency in family medicine in the Annapolis Valley. (Provided photo)

This article is part of a series focusing on the grads of the Dalhousie Class of 2019. Spring Convocation kicked off May 10 in Truro, with Halifax ceremonies from May 27 to June 1. Read all our profiles here, and for more information visit the Convocation website.

“Why not go for it?”

That was the simple question posed to Stacy Hanninen by her husband that propelled her to give up her successful 17-year career as a dietician to pursue her medical degree at Dalhousie. An intimidating proposition to say the least. Now add in the fact that Stacy has two children at home plus roots firmly planted in the Annapolis Valley and the reasons not to go for it seem pretty compelling.

Undaunted, Stacy gave up her licence to practice as a dietician and enrolled in Dalhousie Medical School to take on the delicate balancing act of the responsibilities of student and family life.

“One of the promises that I made to myself when I was accepted to medical school was to try to make the transition to school the least disruptive to my children as possible,” says Stacy. “Therefore, our family made the choice that we would stay in the Annapolis Valley and that I would commute to the city.”

The sacrifices Stacy made as a mature student to pursue her dream did not go unnoticed by her classmates, who would often make comments on how they could never imagine juggling all of her responsibilities on top of their studies. Ever gracious, Stacy is quick to point the spotlight back on her peers. “They are an extraordinarily motivated, professional, self-directed, and compassionate group of people. I feel honoured to have the privilege of graduating with them.”

Promoting healthy living

Even before she enrolled, Stacy’s life experiences and values drew her to specialize in family medicine. Coupled with the need for family doctors in Nova Scotia, it was an easy choice to pursue her residency in family medicine in the Annapolis Valley.

“I enjoy working with people across the different stages of life, and the variety that family medicine provides,” says Stacy. “There is also a huge need for family physicians within Nova Scotia, and I want to play a part in overcoming this issue.”

Once her residency is finished, Stacy’s plan is to work in a collaborative practice in the Annapolis Valley. Stacy remains passionate about nutrition and knows she can use the skills from her former career to promote healthy living and disease prevention with her future patients.

Her two boys are now 11 and 14 years old. Hockey practices and Christmas concerts were unavoidably missed, but Stacy hopes that her success can inspire others.

“I am 44 years old and graduating from medical school,” Stacy says. “I hope that other people will use me as an example of proof that you can do anything you set your mind to, regardless of the perceived barriers that you are faced with.”


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