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Prof. Sharon Macdonald wins Campbell Outreach Award

November 17, 2014 — 
Sharon Macdonald

Sharon Macdonald

The recipient of the 2014 Dr. and Mrs. Ralph Campbell Outreach Award is Dr. Sharon Macdonald, an Associate Professor in the department of community health sciences in the Faculty of Health Sciences. Her outreach activities have positively impacted Manitobans and began with providing medical services to under-served communities throughout this province. She receives this honour at a reception on Nov. 17.

The Campbell Outreach Award is an honour given to a University of Manitoba staff member who unquestionably demonstrates meritorious service in outreach activities. Dr. Macdonald has done this since joining the university’s faculty in 1984, by working alongside people and organizations to assist them in their aspirations.

A Manitoban by birth, she began her medical training at the University of Manitoba, graduating in 1972. After interning at the Montreal General Hospital, family and her interest in Canadian geography and natural history brought her back to Manitoba—this time to Churchill. Here, she began her enduring relationship with northern and Indigenous communities. She worked as a general practitioner in Nunavut and northern Manitoba for the Northern Medical Unit (now the J.A. Hildes NMU) and developed an interest in the health of populations and health care delivery in remote areas.

Her colleagues, such as Dr. Francis Amara from the Department of Biochemistry and Medical Genetics, praise her dedication to understanding the culture of her patients, enabling her to respond to their needs in meaningful ways, providing care that takes cultural practices into account.

“Sharon places a high value on understanding social aspects of engaging the community,” Amara says. “This emphasis on socialization is central to her efforts of partnership and collaborations with the community which is often neglected in many outreach programs.”

Her focus is not only on northern communities. She is also well recognized for her leadership and participation in the UM Connecting to Kids Report  focusing on the inner Winnipeg community, relationships with youth programs and local schools, North End Community Health Network, and the summer basketball drop-in program for inner-city youth hosted annually at Bannatyne campus.  Her participation builds relationships with community members and organizations and serves to inspire students to pursue post-secondary education by offering exposure and access to university facilities and resources.

Another colleague, Dr. Stephen Moses, head of the department of community health sciences, says “she has played a major leadership role in developing and sustaining programs which link the University with the community that it serves.”

Always looking to form new partnerships to reach even more people, Macdonald worked with volunteers and staff to partner with northern communities, the UM Health Careers ACCESS Program, Manitoba’s Office of Rural and Northern Health, the Winnipeg Foundation, Frontier School Division and the UM’s Biomedical Youth Program to organize the first northern community BioArts Youth Camp for elementary and middle-year students in Flin Flon, Cranberry Portage and Moose Lake.

Consistent with her work in community engagement, Macdonald was named Director of the Alan Klass Memorial Program for Health Equity in the College of Medicine in 2013. In this role, Macdonald has been a leader in developing an orientation program for new Faculty of Health Sciences students to bring them into the community and  learn about the strengths of neighbourhoods. She is an enthusiastic supporter of the Jacob Penner Park Program which sees health sciences students volunteer at a drop-in for inner-city youth, and of the WISH (Winnipeg Interprofessional Student-run Health) Clinic.

As a longtime member of the Department of Community Health Sciences, Macdonald has participated in a wide variety of departmental and faculty activities, including graduate and undergraduate teaching, Director of Community Medicine Residency Program, Director of the J.A. Hildes Northern Medical Unit, Chair of Research Ethics Committee and a member of the Kampala-Winnipeg Exchange Project (2005-2007). Macdonald was also Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Community Health Services, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority from 2000-2006. This year, she is Co-Chair of the 2014 United Way Campaign for the University of Manitoba.

Dr. Macdonald inspires students and colleagues with her passionate commitment to community engagement. The University of Manitoba is proud to have such a defender and visionary among its ranks, and it thanks her and honours her for her trendsetting outreach work.

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