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Q&A with Dr. Helena Frecker, our chief clinical fellow

Toronto, September 4, 2015

By Heather Brown

Dr. Helena Frecker
Dr. Helena Frecker, chief clinical fellow, St. Michael’s Hospital. (Photo by Katie Cooper)

Dr. Helena Frecker is the chief clinical fellow for the next year, only the second person to hold this position. She completed her Ob/Gyn residency at St. Michael’s and is in the final year of her fellowship in minimally invasive gynecological surgery.

Q. Tell us about the role of chief fellow?
The chief clinical fellow is a relatively new role. It was created last year to provide clinical fellows with an advocate at St. Michael’s. Unlike residents who are automatic members of the Professional Association of Residents of Ontario, the body that advocates on their behalf on educational and professional concerns, clinical fellows don’t have a resource like this, so the hospital created my position to provide a voice for our fellows at the hospital. In addition to sitting on the Student Experience and Postgraduate Medical Education Committees, I am available to assist any clinical fellow whom may not know who to reach out to at the hospital about a particular issue, create opportunities for our fellows group to connect socially, and promote ways we can find balance amidst our busy clinical responsibilities. Since I’m still new to this role myself I’m still feeling my way through a lot of this.

Q. What’s a typical day like for you?
Most of my time is spent on the clinical side. If I’m not in the operating room, which I am at least two or three days per week, I am seeing patients in the Women’s Health Clinic. However, I do use the downtime I have during the day to reach out to the fellows via phone or email. It’s important for me to check in and let them know I’m here should they need anything. One fellow new to Canada contacted me recently to ask for help finding an obstetrician for his pregnant wife. I made a few calls on his behalf and found them an appointment for the next day.

Q. What are you most looking forward to in your role?
I’m really looking forward to getting to know the other fellows and building more of a fellows community at the hospital. I have a great relationship with the ones I work with in obstetrics and gynecology and having the opportunity to hear about other people’s experiences here will be interesting.

Q. How do you unwind at the end of the day, what’s your guilty pleasure?
I’m a musician in my (limited) spare time, so I really enjoy sitting down with my guitar and recording music in my home. My band’s album, Beneath the ice, is on iTunes.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.