Faculty Spotlight – Sandra Jenneson


Fraser –  Eagle Ridge Hospital

Can you share a little bit about your educational background and journey, and how you got to where you are today?

I completed my bachelor of science with a major in microbiology and immunology from UBC in 2003, in the cooperative education program. While I enjoyed the work experience, I realized I was not a career lab rat. Concurrently while pursuing my degree at UBC, I was also a part time student at the Justice Institute of B.C. and was training to become a paramedic. After graduating, I took a year off to live out of a backpack and use a lonely planet book to find my way around Europe, and South East Asia. Upon my return home, I worked as a paramedic for B.C. Ambulance Service. I enjoyed the clinical experience and was motivated to apply to medical school. I completed medical school in Prince George B.C. via the Northern Medical Program, and went on to complete my emergency medicine residency in Vancouver with the UBC program.

What inspired you to work in Emergency Medicine?

My job as a paramedic. I loved the job but felt the educational and career opportunities were limited, and so decided to apply to medical school with the goal of becoming an emergency physician.

What impact would you like to see your work have on patients, communities and society at large?

Naturally, because of my prehospital experience, I view prehospital medicine as somewhat of an extension of the emergency room. I also currently have a part time job as Regional Medical Director for B.C. Emergency Health Services. I think anyone who has practiced emergency medicine knows that not all patients necessarily need to be in the emergency room (ER), if there was a better, more optimized way or place to treat them. I hope to contribute to the fine tuning of ER users; certainly, improving the care patients get while in the ER, but equally importantly, helping to develop systems and pathways to redirect patients to better care that traditionally they would have sought in the ER.

What excites you most about your work? What are you most proud of?

Let’s be honest – of all physician types, ER physicians have the best sense of humour and are fun to be around. It’s an honour and a privilege to work with all of my ER colleagues (unit clerks, care aids, doctors, nurses….everyone), and enjoy the teamwork and comradery that comes with it. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I have had the opportunity to pursue some key leadership roles working with B.C. Emergency Health Services helping to lead the paramedic provincial COVID-19 response. In addition, I am proud of my advocacy work in moving the paramedic profession forward and becoming more integrated with emergency medicine education.

What is one piece of advice that you would give to current trainees?

The one piece of advice I would give to trainees is that it is not a bad thing to work part-time as an ER physician. The field of emergency medicine has so many facets of opportunity and areas to focus on which will only compliment your ER job. I think one of the reasons the field of emergency medicine is rapidly evolving is because of the many contributions from complementary areas of work. Pick something else you are interested in and take the time to explore it. Chances are it will provide you with more balance, expand your career horizons, and contribute to the emergency medicine field at large!

When you’re not working, where can we find you?

At my hardest job of all…toddler chasing while holding both a baby and a coffee. It’s an acquired skill!

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