Know Your Heroes: Nadine Gebara

Name: Nadine Gebara
Title: Physician
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 always loved science, was drawn to caregiving and was fascinated by how the physical and emotional part of us interplayed. As the eldest of four, I naturally fell into a babysitting/caregiving role early on. In school, I loved science and I had a particular fascination with illness and injuries and the emotions that accompanied these experiences. These interests and affinities led me into medicine.

My role here at UHN is as a Palliative Care physician at Toronto Western Hospital. Our consult service supports individuals with serious illnesses, and their families.

I am involved with teaching and supervising medical students, residents and fellows. I am especially passionate about teaching communication skills, which are important skills in every field of medicine. I have been involved over the last one and a half years in a collaboration with the Neurosurgery nurse practitioners, to identify and optimize palliative care needs of their patient population.

I am currently co-leading a National Palliative Care education series for health care professionals across Canada. This project reflects my motivation for and commitment to promoting palliative care and its equitable access across the country. I have also been involved in a collaboration with the Neurosurgery nurse practitioners over the last one and a half years to identify and optimize palliative care needs of their patient population.

COVID-19 has taught me a lot about strength and resilience- in myself and in others. We all can do hard things- we did do hard things! 

The thing I love the most about my job is
the powerful and supportive impact of health care providers working together to meet the needs of patients and their families. I feel very fortunate to work with skilled, caring and compassionate colleagues across many professions who share the goal of providing comfort and dignified care to our shared patients living with serious illness.

I’m inspired by
patients and their loved ones. It is so powerful to bear witness to a family member (or friend) at their loved one’s bedside, expressing their love and support for one another, while they all reminisce and grieve together. It takes immense courage to be vulnerable and allow ourselves to be seen in our most difficult moments.

One of my personal heroes is a colleague and friend with whom I work in palliative because she is exceptionally skilled, caring, and hard-working. She goes to great lengths to ensure her patients receive the level of care we would each hope our own loved ones receive. Her commitment to her own family and loved ones is equally inspiring. She is the type of human I aspire to be.

I sometimes worry about how well, as a society, we will care for one another in the future. I am comforted by the daily acts of good will I witness at work.

I’ve found joy recently from learning to skate and play hockey, as an adult. I’ve been participating in a ‘Learn 2 Play’ for girls, which is being run by volunteer hockey enthusiast teenagers in my neighbourhood. I love to be active and relish the opportunity to learn a new skill while being active. My spouse and kids play hockey and now they are reciprocating the moral support by cheering me on, (and giving me lots of tips!). I’m having such fun and am excited by the prospect of being able to play shinny with my kids.

My favourite movies are The Minions because I appreciate the silliness and playfulness while also watching the spectrum of personalities and emotions across all the characters. The best part is always hearing my kids giggle while we are in a cuddle puddle on the couch. It brings me so much joy.

My ideal day off is starts with exercise and coffee. After that, the focus is really on the people I’m with, more so than any destination or activity. I want to be with my family and loved ones, doing anything that fosters joy and laughter.

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