Get to know Dr. Lise Bjerre

Posted on Friday, January 15, 2021

Dr. Lise Bjerre

Hi, I'm Dr. Lise Bjerre (pronounced 'Bee-AIR-ray')! I am a practicing family physician and a researcher, more specifically an epidemiologist (I hold a Master's and a PhD in Epidemiology from McGill University). I am also the new University of Ottawa and Institut du Savoir Montfort Chair in Family Medicine.

Why did you choose a career in Family Medicine?

Because of the diversity of problems family doctors can encounter and competently address, and because of the opportunity to provide continuity of care to patients and their families over years, even decades.

What do you like most about your job?

There are so many aspects I like -- the contact with patients, the challenge of a difficult diagnosis, answering difficult questions by designing and conducting research studies, knowing that my work can help improve patients' lives both through direct care and through research -- I cannot pick one over the others. They are all very rewarding, and I feel privileged to be able to do this work.

What do you do to maintain a healthy work/life balance?

Quite simple: I make sure to exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and dedicate time every single day to the people who matter most in my life. I also make sure to set and pursue personal goals for myself, which usually involves learning something new or making new connections.

Did you always know you wanted to be a family doctor?

I thought about it as a young teenager, but it was not until I did my Master's in Epidemiology that I could muster the self-confidence to apply to medical school. Being at the top of my class of mostly-physician classmates gave me the confidence boost I needed to do so.

Can you think of a clinical encounter that stands out for having a big impact, or being inspiring or influential to your work as a family doctor?

My palliative care patients always have a profound impact on me. They have so much to teach us about life. On a more general level, my patients inspire my research, and my research informs my practice.

What advice do you have for medical students who are considering a career in Family Medicine?

You will give a lot of yourself, but you will receive so much more in return.

Are there any Family Medicine initiatives or research projects you are aware of or involved in that you would like to communicate to medical students, residents and Family Medicine faculty?

As Chair in Family Medicine, I will help support a range of projects and initiatives, so there will be many opportunities arising. The best project, however, is the one you are passionate about. I look forward to discussing your ideas!

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