Know Your Heroes: Lauren Lapointe-Shaw

Know Your Heroes showcases the many different people and roles that make up #TeamUHN. We celebrate these people, who strive to make the world a healthier place every day.

Name: Lauren Lapointe-Shaw
Title: General Internal Medicine Physician and Clinician-Scientist, UHN
# of years working in health care: 11
Hometown: I was born and raised in Ottawa.

I decided to get into health care because I love the science of medicine and connecting with others, whether it is through teaching or forming strong bonds with patients and colleagues. In clinical care, I get to feel the impact of my efforts almost immediately – when we prescribe the right treatment and now my patient is feeling better. That is incredibly gratifying, and a difference from the research world, where it takes much longer to have an impact.

My role here at UHN is to care for the complex patients admitted to the General Internal Medicine (GIM) wards, including patients with COVID-19. A lot of it is detective work – piecing together the clues to determine what the diagnosis might be, keeping track of multiple conditions simultaneously (our patients rarely have just one diagnosis!) and developing and implementing a tailored treatment plan. We also work as part of a multidisciplinary team focused on supporting patient recovery and getting them safely home. When I’m not doing clinical work, I am leading policy-shaping research into the quality of Ontario’s health services, in and out of hospital.

COVID-19 has affected me by striking real fear in my heart for months. Like many of my colleagues, I had serious and tearful discussions with loved ones about what might happen to our family. I think COVID-related anxiety led to some positive things: rapid innovation and zealous teamwork as many of us tried to contribute to COVID-19 efforts – helping however possible was an effective stress reliever. The GIM community has been incredible, working at warp speed to develop protocols and training for COVID-19 care, while also putting in long hours on the COVID-19 wards themselves.  

The thing I love the most about my job is the variety of helping patients in their time of need, mentoring and teaching medical trainees and expressing creativity through research.

The most incredible thing I’ve seen at work is when my patient becomes friends with the patient in the next bed – I hear them chatting, or one will help answer the other’s questions, or advocate on their behalf. Being admitted to hospital can be so isolating, especially in the COVID-19 era. Humans are social creatures.  

I’m inspired by
a methodological (research) or logistical (clinical) challenge, especially when we can work as a group to tackle it.

One of my personal heroes is Barack Obama because
he demonstrates tremendous integrity, compassion and humility.

I sometimes worry about where humanity is headed, in terms of values, measures of success and planetary destruction.  

I’ve found joy recently from spending time outside with my husband and two little girls – we have checked out all the city’s ravines and nature walks, and these days we head to the track to practice bike-riding with the little ones.   

My favourite movie is The Barbarian Invasions (Les Invasions Barbares) – a landmark Quebecois film with brilliant social commentary, including on the shortcomings of our healthcare system. A must see.

My ideal day off is spending time outside, preferably around trees. Read a book, have a picnic, nap in the sunshine. Wow, that would be amazing.

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