Dr. Richelle Schindler: 2020 Kristin Sivertz Resident Leadership Award recipient
Dr. Richelle Schindler is a Public Health and Preventive Medicine resident at the University of Calgary whose record of leadership and success is so outstanding that her peers say her performance has “redefined metrics.”
Improving resident wellness
In her role as co-chief of her program, Dr. Schindler has focused closely on the key issue of physician health, undertaking the program’s largest-ever needs assessment. She did this by bringing her typical humanistic style to the job, connecting individually with every resident, and providing a safe space for them to share their thoughts and concerns. Through expert project management, Dr. Schindler translated residents’ concerns into long-term change for the program. The improvements have created a deepened sense of community, enhanced individual and system-level wellness, and facilitated transformative change in the program’s academic half day curriculum.
A template for change
Building on her work within her program, Dr. Schindler used her position as vice-president community and internal relations for the Professional Association of Resident Physicians of Alberta (PARA) to improve resident wellness across Canada. After identifying a gap in PARA’s wellness process, she developed a health in all policies approach, which now guides all PARA initiatives. No previous VPCIR had undertaken work of such depth and breadth, and PARA has shared Dr. Schindler’s work with residency process across Alberta, as well as with the Canadian Federation of Medical Students. The latter organization is modelling its own initiative on Dr. Schindler’s template.
Enhancing contact tracing in Alberta
But perhaps the most visible example of Dr. Schindler’s ability to mobilize a large group toward a common goal is her work as architect and champion of the Alberta COVID-19 Exposure Response Team. This province-wide initiative has exponentially increased Alberta’s ability to contact trace and test for COVID-19. Dr. Schindler recruited and trained 300 medical students, ensuring that each individual felt welcome in an unfamiliar, high-stress and high-anxiety environment. She committed from day one to creating an open-access system that others can use, and met with medical school deans, student leaders and Medical Officers of Health in multiple provinces to offer support in implementing the system across the country.
An outstanding clinician, and an inspiring and sophisticated leader, Dr. Schindler has consistently shown she can use her extraordinary skills in public advocacy to mobilize large groups of people to action.
Dr. Schindler will be recognized and celebrated during the virtual ICRE series on November 18, 2020.