WINNIPEG -- A Manitoba university professor and emergency room physician is one of five Canadians recognized for improving the wellness of resident doctors in Canada.

Dr. Cheryl ffrench was named as a recipient of the Resident Doctors of Canada (RDoC) Puddester Award for Resident Wellness. The award recognizes people who work to improve the wellness of residents across Canada.

ffrench is an assistant professor at the University of Manitoba’s Max Rady School of Medicine and an emergency room physician.

“Our residents provide an invaluable service," said ffrench. "Yes, they are there to learn, but they are also doctors and they’re doctors on the front line, and they are doctors who go to work every day and make incredible sacrifices every day."

According to ffrench, after a former resident in her training program lost a battle with an illness, she created the first all-day Post Graduate Medical Education Resident Retreat.

“My residents came to me and said we need to acknowledge this loss and to acknowledge this resident and what she meant to us on a wider scale," she said. "All the residents of the PGME were all impacted by this loss.”

She added it was important to remember that life, what they had brought to the program and their passion and commitment to other residents. 

The success of the retreat has led to an annual commitment. Some of workshops they focused on were parenting in residency, self-care and meditation, and eating healthy. 

“We ask a lot of them and we expect a lot of them and I think it’s really important that we as staff provide them with the opportunity to be supported and to acknowledge their personal lives are equally important to their professional lives,” said ffrench.

She also said that when becoming a doctor you have to really learn to balance personal and professional life. 

“They have to show up to work and bring their A-game no matter what," said ffrench. "If they have difficulty going on at home perhaps with a personal relationship, family members being sick, with their children needing them at home, they can’t bring that into the operation room."

Dr. Emily Stewart, President of RDoC said it was an honour to recognize ffrench’s work. 

“At the best of times, medicine can be an intense occupation, and RDoC works hard with its stakeholders to make sure that the wellness of Canada’s resident doctors is always a consideration in decision-making," said Stewart in a written statement. "These are unusual times and we are especially grateful for everyone who are providing wellness support to our members."

The awards will be presented to recipients once COVID-19 restrictions on physical distancing have been lifted.