A commitment to caring

Calgary pediatrician’s work with Médecins Sans Frontières was a lifetime in the making.

It was a wonderful, rewarding, fascinating experience. It really satisfies the social justice side of me and I would definitely go again.

When Dr. Cheri Nijssen-Jordan and her husband first married, they knew that international work would be part of their future. “My husband and I had done oversees work back in 83-85 with World University Service of Canada, and when we came back we wanted to stay involved,” she explains.

“Pete, my husband, is a water and sanitation logistician and we both got involved with Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) Canada, who were just starting out when we were living in Ottawa. Pete has been working with them for 20 years now, while I’ve been holding the home fort down with our four kids.”

When her husband returned from his most recent posting in the fall of 2013, the timing seemed right for Dr. Nijssen-Jordan to take on an assignment with MSF. “I was just finishing up as medical director at South Health Campus, we were down to two kids at home and I thought, it was a good time as someday Pete and I want to do a project together”

Dr. Nijssen-Jordan recently returned from her first trip with MSF, where she spent three months working in Pakistan to help establish a newborn unit at women’s hospital. “It had been started by another physician just before I got there, and I was asked to help expand its capacity.”

Her assignment in Pakistan began March 29 and ended on June 29, and involved grueling days in 40 degree heat. “I’m used to long days, but this was a lot of work,” she laughs. “It was a challenge, because even though I’ve done neonatology in the past, this was completely focused on the newborns.”

Although she only had one weekend off during her time there and was on almost constant call, “it was a wonderful, rewarding, fascinating experience. It really satisfies the social justice side of me and I would definitely go again.” Eventually, she hopes that she and her husband will take on an assignment together. “I think we’ve got a good combination of skills, so hopefully they can use us both.”

Physicians interested in learning more about MSF can view the MSF Canada training FAQ,  visit the MSF website at www.msf.ca or attend the upcoming information session in Edmonton on December 1. This event takes place in the Stanley Milner Library at 7 p.m.

 

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