Kelowna nephrologist Dr. Marie Michaud's preparation for her career in medicine started in an unlikely setting – on a farm on the outskirts of Gibbons in northern Alberta – population 3,030.
Growing up on the family farm, milking cows and tending chickens, Marie learned how to work hard. She also acquired an appreciation for simple living and a respect for the environment. These life lessons continue to serve her well, but more formal training was put on hold when she quit high school and started her family early.
In her mid-thirties, Marie says she had a mid-life crisis. As a girl on the farm she had always dreamed about one day being a physician. She liked the idea of looking after people. Her kids were in school; there was no time to lose. She enrolled in sciences at the University of Alberta in Edmonton.
"It was difficult and hard on the family," says Marie. But her determination and capacity for work saw her through those years until she completed her training in nephrology in Calgary. The appeal of nephrology for her was clear from the start.
"It's like being a primary care physician for people with a complex, chronic disease. I love my job," says Marie, who especially values the long-term relationships she has with patients. "I feel very lucky to have gone back to school when I did."
As renal medical director for Interior Health, Marie says her priority is improving the consistency of care for renal patients across her health authority. Covering such a vast and diverse region, this is a challenging task, and she is grateful for the support she gets from the BC Renal Agency for those efforts.
Marie's home life also reflects the influence of her early years. She and her husband live on a quarter-acre property in Kelowna from where she can walk to work, to the grocery store and for most of the things she needs. Her goal is to reduce as much as possible her need for a car.
She loves to garden but doesn't do any weeding. "It's not a flower or a vegetable garden," says Marie. It's an inviting oasis, filled with native plants attracting local wildlife and insects.
"In the summer," says Marie, "my yard is full of life, with the humming of bees and birds chirping everywhere. I love living here."