Know Your Heroes: Haley Draper

Name: Haley Draper
Title: Palliative care physician at Toronto Western Hospital (TWH)
Number of years working in health care: 12
I was born and raised in: Toronto

I decided to get into health care because I have had an interest in medicine since childhood. I loved learning about science, but I was also drawn to the human connection and being in a caring role. I was a very determined child, and once I decided I wanted to be a doctor, my path was set. I was introduced to palliative care in my residency and was drawn to the artful and compassionate practice of caring for seriously ill patients and their families.

My role here at UHN is to be part of a consultant team of physicians and a clinical nurse specialist that helps care for people with serious illness. We also train medical students, residents and fellows. I have shared my time between TWH, Kensington Hospice and a community-based family medicine practice.

One of the projects I am excited about is Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes) Palliative Care with Pallium Canada. I am co-leading this national palliative care education series for health professionals across Canada. ECHO is a guided practice model that encourages continuous learning for healthcare professionals to build local capacity to provide best-practice palliative care and reduce health disparities. It has been exciting to be able to reach providers across Canada.

Over the past 18 months, I have been working closely with the neurosurgical nurse practitioners. The goal has been to establish better collaboration between the inpatient palliative care and neurosurgical teams at TWH to better identify, evaluate and manage unmet neurosurgical palliative care needs. 

COVID-19 has affected me by making me miss the social interactions with friends and family, kids’ playdates, dinners out and vacations. On reflection, I appreciated the opportunity to pause, slow down and spend more meaningful time with my husband and children. We are now back to busy days at work and school and too many after-hours activities. 

The thing I love the most about my job is
working with so many amazing, compassionate and supportive colleagues in palliative care and in the hospital system. I am always grateful for the privilege to support people at the end of their life. I am inspired by the strength and resilience of patients and their loved ones in the face of hard times.

The most incredible thing I’ve seen at work is the relentless hard work, care and collaboration that happens in our hospitals. I watched healthcare workers move away from their own families to keep them safe while caring for their seriously ill patients. It was inspiring to bear witness to the dedication to patient- and family-centered care.

I’m inspired by
my children and my colleagues who have shown tremendous flexibility and resilience over the past years.

One of my personal heroes is a close friend and colleague who works with me in palliative care. She is the epitome of a kind, skillful, resilient and compassionate doctor and teacher. It is evident that palliative medicine is her calling, and I am grateful to work alongside her and learn from her every day.

I sometimes worry about taking on the weight of some of the gaps and inequities within our healthcare system. 

I’ve found joy recently from watching my children learn and excel at their hobbies. 

My ideal day off is snowboarding with my family. We spend our weekends in Collingwood, ON. I have a new love for the cold, snowy and long Canadian winters!

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