Faculty Spotlight – Savannah Forrester


Vancouver Island –  Royal Jubilee and Victoria General Hospitals

Dr. Savannah Forrester is a clinical instructor with the UBC Department of Emergency Medicine and an emergency physician at Royal Jubilee and Victoria General Hospitals. Dr. Forrester is passionate about caring for our growing population of older adults and aspires to develop a standardized curriculum for medical students and emergency medicine residents to expand geriatric-focused educational opportunities and foster an early appreciation for care of older adults.

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

I grew up in Calgary, Alberta and completed the first half of my undergrad at McGill University—ultimately finishing my degree in neuroscience at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. I then returned to Calgary to complete my medical school training at the University of Calgary. My five-year FRCPC Emergency Medicine residency was spent in Kingston, Ontario at Queen’s University. During my fourth year of residency, I underwent a year of training in Toronto with a specialized focus on geriatric emergency medicine.

After graduating, I was successful in obtaining a staff position in Victoria, BC and currently work out of the Royal Jubilee and Victoria General Hospitals. I have had the pleasure of working and teaching in Victoria for the past 18 months.

What inspired you to work in Emergency Medicine?

When I first started medical school, emergency medicine was not an area I had ever considered working in. It wasn’t until a pre-clerkship elective at the beginning of my second year, that I experienced my first shift in the emergency department and found a place where a whole shift went by before I even realized.

My formative years growing up were largely spent in an environment revolving around a team sport when I wasn’t in school, and the team-based and collaborative environment in the emergency department was an immediate feeling of familiarity and comfort.

I worked with many staff who not only inspired me as hard workers who provided excellent patient care but who were also kind and imparted an enthusiasm for teaching. The diverse patient populations and clinical presentations along with the demand for multi-tasking, fast paced and critical problem-solving through high-acuity cases were all things that drew me towards working as an emergency physician.

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

My true passion while working in the emergency department is to advocate for and optimize the care of the growing population of older adults that we see every shift.

I envision elevating the standard of emergency care of older adults across Canada and caring for patients who are viewed holistically by a multidisciplinary team of physicians, nurses and allied health while improving both system-based and patient focused outcomes.

Throughout this journey, I hope to educate other members of the care team in the emergency department on ways of improving care for this patient population and to help providers feel supported and competent managing the complexity that older adults often present with. Finally, I aspire to develop a standardized curriculum for medical students and emergency medicine residents to expand geriatric-focused educational opportunities with the hope of fostering an early appreciation for care of older adults.

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

I am most excited that I have found an area of emergency medicine that I feel strongly inspired by and want to advocate for both on and off shift. I am also thrilled by the opportunity to work with trainees during their early years of practice, where I hope to be able to share my enthusiasm and leave a positive influence on their medical careers. I am most proud of the team that I work with in the emergency department on a daily basis, who never fail to impress me with the care they provide to our patients, despite the many obstacles and challenges that come with our clinical environment.

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

Never lose your humility in medicine. And try to appreciate the joys of caring for older patients…there are many.

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

I fit the typical emergency medicine physician stereotype where I prefer to be outside hiking with my dog Lily, cycling on my road bike, in the pool or exploring and photographing the many beautiful areas of Vancouver Island.  If I am not outside, you can find me around my home with my family, drinking coffee and working on small projects or thinking up the next delicious recipe to cook or bake.

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