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Department Spotlight: Dr. Donna Manca

Tell me a little about yourself:

I have a family practice at the Grey Nuns Medical Centre.  My practice is an established practice (since the 1980’s) and the patients are engaged in teaching our residents.  I am the Director of the Research Program in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Alberta.  I am also the director of the Northern Alberta Primary Care Research Network, a practice based network participating in the Canadian Primary Care Research Network.  My ultimate research aims are to improve care to our patients and I see it as a team sport.

Aside from medicine, I am married with two grown daughters.  My husband is a carpenter and we enjoy each others company.

Where were you born? Where were you raised?

I was born in Edmonton and grew up there.

What degrees do you have, and from what universities?

MD & BMSc at the University of Alberta and MClSc from Western University.

Where do you practice medicine and in what scope? What are your research interests?

I practice at the Grey Nuns Medical Centre in Edmonton.  I no longer deliver babies.  My research interests research interests include primary care, privacy, ethics, research networks, chronic disease prevention, screening, and management.

I am also interested in practice based research networks, and research translation and uptake and practice improvement.

What special interests or hobbies do you have?

I am a martial artist and, in collaboration with two of my black belt buddies, we run the Chiu Lau Kung Fu College for our Sifu (Master) Chiu Lau who passed away a few years ago.  We are focused on Ving Tsung and train with our Sigung (Grandmaster) Chau Lin Fat in Hong Kong of Yip Man’s lineage.  We also train at the Shaolin temple for fitness and teach Shaolin styles and weapons, my favourite weapon is the Chinese broad sword.

Why did you choose to pursue a MClSc in the Department of Family Medicine at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry?

In the 1980’s the patient centred method was being developed and I was very interested in learning about that and how we can improve care to patients.  I also wanted to develop skills in evaluating primary care and research.

Can you tell me about your experience in the programm?

I grew and learned a great deal during my time at Western.  In the 80’s one of my patients had a miscarriage and she taught me about the distress she experienced and how we, the medical profession, contributed to her distress.  At that time we did not know about the grief experience patients would have with miscarriage.  I wondered if social support and/or physician support could impact this distress.  I also wanted to learn more about what this distress was.  Working with Dr. Martin Bass I became aware that quantitative data alone would not answer my question.  So we sought out advice from an anthropologist and looked at other methods.  The project we developed would be a very early mixed methods project.  Using grounded theory approach we were able to describe the miscarriage experience and correlate the distress with the meaning of the pregnancy and social supports.

What inspires you in your work?

My patients.

What has been your greatest experience to date in your practice/research?

Working with amazing people on a research team with mutual respect and co-creating something bigger than any one individual could do.