MCISc Program Alumni Profile: Dr. Joshua Shadd

Joshua Shadd’s experiences as a graduate of the Master of Clinical Science program formed the basis of his interest in palliative care, a field in which he continues to excel.

Dr. Shadd was born and grew up in London. After finishing pre medical training at Western, he completed medical school and a residency in family medicine at Queen’s University, and then practiced family medicine in northeastern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario. In 2004, he undertook a clinical fellowship in palliative medicine and his clinical practice has subsequently focused in this area.

“I want to make things better for all patients,” said Joshua, who graduated from the department of Family Medicine at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry in 2013. “We can have an impact through teaching, research and leadership. That is what drew me into academic work as a whole. The MCISc helped me to build this well-rounded range of skills to contribute in the multiple different domains beyond the clinical.”

Dr. Shadd now works as attending physician on the Palliative Care Clinical Teaching Unit at Hamilton Health Sciences St. Peter’s Hospital, Canada’s largest palliative care program.

“What inspires me in my work is the ability to help people and family at a moment of need in a practical way,” said Dr. Shadd. “The MCISc has been a key to both giving the tools and opening the doors to making this work possible. It helped me to reflect on and understand my patient’s journey and my role in my patient’s journey in a different and deeper way.”

Outside of clinical work, Dr. Shadd devotes his time to teaching and administrative leadership.

“My greatest experience is being involved with learners and seeing their eyes open to the potential they have to shape someone's last phase of life in a way that brings meaning to the patients and their families,” said Dr. Shadd, who is also an Assistant Professor and Director of the Division of Palliative Care in the Department of Family Medicine at McMaster University. “The MCISc degree has helped equip me to facilitate the experiential learning of the students to gain these insights.”

Dr. Shadd’s research interests focus on supporting primary palliative care. He encourages others to join him in transforming how Canadians approach the last stage of life. “This is a challenge that goes way beyond palliative care, far beyond medicine, far beyond the healthcare system as a whole,” he argued. “But I am optimistic about the changes that are happening and the conversations that are ongoing.”

Dr. Shadd emphasizes the importance of community building in the research process. “I have been privileged to be part of a research team that has approached research in a way that has not just been answering a series of academic questions, “ he continued. “ It was an opportunity to foster dialogue that has built, deepened and strengthened the community of palliative care practitioners’ ability to respond to medical assistance in dying. This definitely has been one of my greatest highlights and the Master of Clinical Science program has helped equip me to be able to participate in that.”

Although it is challenging to balance professional and family life, Dr. Shadd tries to give each part the attention it deserves. He is married to Averil, and they have two children, Julie and Samuel, age 15 and 13.

Outside of work, he spends as much time as possible outdoors with his family. He loves skiing with his family in the winter, and hiking and biking in the summer. He also loves to run; “it is such a great metaphor of life. Never give up and do your best to get up and keep going.”