Cardiologist equips trainees to find the answers
Dr. Martin Gardner is the 2020 recipient of the Mentor of the Year award for Region 5
Martin Gardner, MD, FRCPC, and director of the Inherited Heart Disease Clinic at QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, is the kind of mentor that former trainees connect with years later.
“He is an expert clinician, extremely able listener, and someone who allows you to help work through your issues and concerns in coming to a conclusion as to what is the next best step,” says Simon Jackson, MD, FRCPC, and fellow cardiologist at Dalhousie University.
“I was only one of many lucky individuals who was mentored by Dr. Gardner from my days as a Cardiology resident onward and I still go to him today whenever I have a difficult case or a difficult decision to make,” says Catherine M. Kells, MD, FRCPC, also a cardiologist at Dalhousie.
Dalhousie University professor John Sapp, MD, FRCPC, and president of the Canadian Heart Rhythm Society, remembers the impact Dr. Gardner had on him as a junior faculty member. “He made a point of respecting the expertise of colleagues, and helping with patient care either by telephone, by reviewing electrocardiogram traces by fax, or by sharing in the clinical care. He set an example for our entire group, showing us how to be responsive and approachable as consultants.”
“He has been a personal inspiration for me and many others, demonstrating all of the attributes of an ideal academic specialist physician.”
Dr. Gardner says one of the biggest lessons he learned from his own mentors is to equip patients to make the best decisions for themselves – and let them do just that.
“When I was early career, looking after a young woman with diabetes, we had wanted to institute better insulin therapy and measurement of blood sugars and she refused. Next time we did rounds I asked how we were going to address this. My mentor, Jean Gray, MD, FRCPC, surprised me with the advice she gave.”
“She said ‘That person is making the decision for herself and you have to respect that. They have the ability to make the decision.’A lot of the patients I see now ask if I have advice for them. I tell them the decision they make is theirs.”
Dr. Gardner says the most rewarding thing in mentorship “is when somebody understands something that was difficult to understand, and they go on to the next step with some sort of excitement or happiness. The second thing is when somebody comes back to me in an informal way to ask for advice because they trust me.”