Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Fred Voon


Victoria – Victoria General Hospital and Royal Jubilee Hospital

Fred Voon, Clinical Assistant Professor with UBC’s Department of Emergency Medicine.

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

Life is full of curveballs!  My work now is different than what I would have imagined for myself. I switched my shift work to every other week after becoming a single dad to three humans – offering a balance that not every field would allow. My other jobs (mentioned below) provide meaning, flexibility, remote work, passive income, plus ways to use the skills and hard lessons I’ve learned along the way. 

Victoria has been home for over 15 years but before that, I trained and worked in Edmonton with a great group. I also did rural locums in Alberta, BC, and New Zealand. My Family Medicine training was through Dalhousie University in the Maritimes, which is an amazing part of the world to spend some time.

What inspired you to work in emergency medicine? 

I was a teenage volunteer porter in the Emergency Department of the University of Alberta Hospital and that first exposure got me hooked on the team atmosphere, the controlled chaos, and the overall energy. Not only did I witness some iconic physicians in our field… I got really good at maneuvering a stretcher! 

I’m not an adrenaline/trauma junkie, but rather a boy-scout at heart in that I like to be prepared – and so I only set my sights on the general knowledge plus advanced skills that the CCFP-EM combo offered. There are times that general license has come in handy. Furthermore, a large number of patients that roll through the ED benefit from the unique perspective of longitudinal and community training.

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

As an emerg doc: I aim to leave the world a bit of a better place than when I showed up to work. 

As the business lead for our group of 50 physicians: to help run an efficient organization in a trustworthy, accountable, and reliable way.

As Medical Staff Association executive: to improve the culture between physicians in the hospital, their well-being, and their overall sense of belonging.

As a speaker: to promote evidence-based-happiness

As an author: to raise the health literacy of the public; guide them through the confusing ED environment on what might be a day of pain, suffering, or distress for them; and hopefully, to keep even one person from having to come to the Emergency Department that didn’t need to go.

As a volunteer (Our Place Society, YMCA Camp Thunderbird, BCHealthCareMatters): it’s not all about the money. We all have ways we can give back.

What excites you most about your work?

Just as our work is ever-changing, the answer to that question is always changing. I love being dynamic, innovating new things or new ways of doing things, and finding solutions to problems.  

Right now I’m excited by a “Better Patient Discharge” project, a “Crazy Socks for Docs” campaign on physician mental health and suicide, and trialing short-term aftercare for ED patients that don’t have a family doctor.  

What are you most proud of?

“I have three precious things which I hold fast and prize.  

The first is gentleness; the second is frugality; the third is humility, which keeps me from putting myself before others. Be gentle and you can be bold; be frugal and you can be liberal; avoid putting yourself before others and you can become a leader among men.”      — Lao-Tzu

If I can continue to follow that lodestar, then I will be proud of myself.

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

We are fortunate to have almost infinite lateral movement available to us in medicine, and with emergency training in particular. Don’t get stuck in a corner of medicine where you aren’t finding some joy. Be unafraid to reach out to a colleague, ask for help, or take risks to make changes. You can craft a life and work that integrates the best parts of you.

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

I’m a bit embarrassed to say… on TikTok. I posted a video with a couple of tips on handling nausea and vomiting at home, and it went viral with over 10 million views in the first 48 hours. Until recently, I tried to stay away from social media!

Dr. Fred Voon works at two urban hospitals in Victoria, B.C. and is a member of the Speakers Bureau of Canada. He was named an “Emerging Local Author” by the Greater Victoria Public Library, and listed in the “Who’s Who” section of BC Bookworld Magazine for his non-fiction guide for everyday Canadians, “Your Inside Guide to the Emergency Department–And How to Prevent How to Go!”  

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