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11 min read
Tuesday, February 6, 2024
at 4:27 PM AST
Posted by
By Jessica Long

Celebrating Resident Doctor Appreciation Week

Photo of people smiling.

This week marks Resident Doctor Appreciation Week. This week, and every day, Nova Scotia Health acknowledges and appreciates the vital role resident physicians play in our healthcare system.

Being a resident is challenging and demanding. The journey through residency training is marked by long work hours, high-pressure situations, and an ongoing commitment to skill development. Despite these challenges, resident doctors exemplify passion and drive, aiming to make a positive impact on the healthcare system and provide all patients with positive care experiences. 

In honor of Resident Doctor Appreciation Week, we are shining a spotlight on four outstanding residents who exemplify excellence in their contributions to healthcare in Nova Scotia: Dr. Emma Crawley, Dr. Michael Coldwell, Dr. Josh Kandiah, and Dr. Gabrielle Melanson! 

Dr. Emma Crawley, Third Year Emergency Medicine Resident 

Dr. Emma Crawley is a resident physician specializing in emergency medicine. Born and raised in Halifax, Nova Scotia, she ventured to Toronto for her undergraduate degree, where she also played varsity hockey. However, her heart remained in Halifax, and she returned for medical school at Dalhousie University. Dr. Crawley’s husband, Kyle, serves in the Canadian Armed Forces and is stationed at the military base in Greenwood, where they currently reside.

Influenced by her mother's career as a pharmacist, Dr. Crawley has an early interest in sciences and health. Early on in her medical training, she was drawn towards orthopedic surgery, but she fell in love with family medicine during medical school, appreciating its broad scope of primary care. A significant highlight in Dr. Crawley’s medical training was her family medicine residency at Dalhousie’s Southwest Nova site in Yarmouth. Dr. Erica Lasher-Coates, her primary preceptor, played a pivotal role as a mentor, role model, and friend. 

Her interest in emergency medicine developed during her family medicine training, where she recognized the dynamic intersection of primary care and procedural work. After completing her family medicine residency in June 2023, she began a second residency in emergency medicine. 

For aspiring medical professionals, Dr. Crawley’s advice is to maintain an open mind throughout their training. She emphasized the importance of keeping an open mind. 

“There is a lot of pressure to pick a specialty early in medical training, but it is okay for interests to evolve and for career paths to change,” she said. “Five years ago, I would never have imagined a career in emergency medicine, but with more exposure to more specialties throughout my training, my path evolved, and I’ve found an area of medicine that I really enjoy. I’m proof that you can change your mind!” 

Outside of medicine, Dr. Crawley is a dedicated surfer who tackles the waves year-round, even in the winter. Remarkably, she has surfed at least once every month for the past 39 months. Additionally, she is building an off-grid tiny cabin with her husband. They have done everything from clearing the land to building the structure themselves and looking forward to having fully functioning cabin this spring!

Meet Dr. Josh Kandiah, Third Year Internal Medicine Resident

Born in Mississauga and raised in Ottawa, Dr. Josh Kandiah completed his undergraduate studies in Biomedical Science at the University of Ottawa and pursued medical school at the University of British Columbia.  Dr. Kandiah's passion for exploring new cities and diverse cultures led him to Halifax. He is currently in his third year of the Internal Medicine residency at Dalhousie University.

Driven by a strong interest anatomy and physiology during university, combined with his experience working with children with special needs, Dr. Kandiah realized that medicine was the ideal career to merge his interests and passion for helping people. 

Dr. Kandiah was co-Chief Medicine Resident with Dr. Gabrielle Melanson, championing resident wellness and advocating for positive changes within the Internal Medicine Department for fellow residents. 

Dr. Kandiah said that his interactions with patients are one of his favorite parts of practicing medicine.

“My interactions with my patients are something I'll always have an appreciation for,” explained Dr. Kandiah. “Not only do I love making a positive difference for people, taking the time to have personal conversations with them allows for more meaningful connections that I deeply value.”

For those considering medical school, Dr. Kandiah emphasized the importance of working hard while maintaining a well-rounded life. 

“For those about to start residency, remember that you are not expected to know everything. Understand that you're allowed to be wrong sometimes and prioritize your own wellness outside of work,” he said. 

A fun fact about Dr. Kandiah is that his family has 24 pets, including 3 goats, 20 chickens, and 1 German Shepherd. 

Dr. Michael Coldwell, First Year Family Medicine Resident  

Born and raised in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Dr. Coldwell is proud to call the province home and envisions a long-term practice here. Dr. Coldwell completed his undergraduate studies at Queen's University, where he pursued a dual degree in Commerce and Life Science, blending pre-med courses with learning about the management side of healthcare.

Though he enjoyed his time at Queen’s University, he developed a newfound appreciation for his home province. Therefore, he decided to complete medical school at Dalhousie University. It was during this time that Dr. Coldwell developed a keen interest in full-scope Family Medicine, in addition to forming lifelong friendships. Experiences in rural family practices and emergency departments exposed him to the broad scope of practice and the direct impact on patient care, solidifying that family medicine was the right path for him.

He was thrilled to be matched with the Halifax-South Shore Family Medicine Residency program, as it allows him to spend half his time on the South Shore and the other half in the Halifax area. Dr. Coldwell enjoys the mix of rural, full-scope family practice on the South Shore and has found it to be a positive experience so far.

“Managing acute cases for patients in the Emergency Department, leading their inpatient care, and then following up with them in the Family Medicine clinic to help optimize their long-term health, has really highlighted to me the immense value of full-scope Family Medicine,” explained Dr. Coldwell. “This skill development, along with the longitudinal relationships built with patients and my amazing preceptors – I couldn’t ask for a more rewarding training experience so far.”

For those considering or currently in medical school, Dr. Coldwell emphasized the importance of incorporation of wellness activities into busy schedules. Recognizing the challenge, he actively schedules time for sports, music, and gym sessions, acknowledging the positive impact on overall well-being.

Beyond medicine, Dr. Coldwell is sometimes known by his freestyle rap alter-ego, "Mike on the Mic," jokingly noting this would be an alternative career path if his journey in medicine wasn’t successful!

Meet Gabrielle Melanson, Third Year Internal Medicine Resident

Dr. Gabrielle Melanson was born in Moncton, New Brunswick and grew up in a French speaking household. She completed medical school at the University of Sherbrooke, studying entirely in French. However, when it came to applying for residency, she chose Halifax because of her love of the city and wanted to remain near family.

From a young age, she was exposed to the medical profession through the influence of her mother, a family physician, and her godmother, a pediatrician, both of whom instilled in her a passion for medicine. Inspired by their dedication and love for their work, Dr. Melanson knew early on that she wanted to pursue a career in healthcare.

Currently in her last year of her three-year residency in internal medicine, Dr. Melanson will be completing a fellowship in nephrology in Halifax. 

During her residency, Dr. Melanson has appreciated the collegial environment that is offered by Dalhousie University. She points to her former role as co-chief medicine resident in partnership with Dr. Josh Kandiah. She played a pivotal role in advocating for resident wellness and positive changes within the department. 

"We truly felt that the program listened to us and worked towards implementing changes to improve the quality of life for residents,” explained Dr. Melanson. “This experience not only contributed to my personal growth but also strengthened my bond with my co-residents, as I advocated on their behalf. Additionally, it brought me closer to the staff, as I actively participated in meetings with them.”

Dr. Melanson pointed to the wellness rounds as providing a forum for residents to discuss challenges, share experiences, and support one another. Despite the long hours and challenges that come with residency training, she said the events helped the residents know that we're all in this together, foster a strong sense of community and help alleviate feelings of loneliness, especially for residents who have moved away from their families. 

When asked if she has any advice for anyone thinking about pursuing medicine, Dr. Melanson shared her valuable insights.

"The days are long, but the years are short, and I think that's so true for medical training," said Dr. Melanson. "Although residents work long hours, when you reflect on your entire training journey, it's been such a blast and entirely worth it. So, I would say to those people applying to medical school that you need to be prepared for hard work, but also be ready for the best career. Every day, I make a difference in people's lives, and I can't imagine doing anything else."

Outside of her medical career, Dr. Melanson is a enjoys reading, going for walks, and traveling, taking advantage of her partner's employment benefits at Air Canada to explore new destinations. As a former competitive figure skater, she also volunteers her time to judging competitions.

Photos of (L-R) Dr. Josh Kandiah, Dr. Gabrielle Melanson, Dr. Emma Crawley and Dr. Michael Coldwell.


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