Faculty Spotlight: Dr. Kathleen Milne

Kathleen Milne

Tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised in Sarnia, Ontario. I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Guelph in Biomedical Science, after which I came to Western University for a Masters of Science in Clinical Anatomy. That is where I first got a taste of teaching, as I gained extensive experience in teaching (both didactic and in the lab) both undergraduate and medical students in anatomy and histology. I then studied medicine at the Schulich Windsor Campus, where I made wonderful connections and lifelong friends. After graduation in 2015, I completed my Family Medicine training in Petrolia, Ontario, which was an incredible experience in rural family medicine. I ultimately found a true calling in Palliative Medicine, when I was exposed to Palliative Care in my first year of Family Medicine residency, and decided to pursue it as a specialty. I was fortunate to complete a PGY3 year in Palliative Care at Schulich. I am now happy to officially call London my home, where I live with my husband, two young kids and golden retriever.

Where do you practice medicine and in what scope? 

I practice Palliative Care full time at University Hospital. When I first began practice, I had a mix of community Palliative Care and inpatient Palliative Care. This provided me with a great experience to have a broad and comprehensive knowledge of the different scopes of Palliative Care within the city of London, and to learn how to navigate these well for myself and my patients. As I continued to work at University Hospital, however, it became clear that there was a need and opportunity to expand Palliative Care services there. I then transitioned to practicing full time inpatient Palliative Care in 2019. I currently collaborate with my friend and colleague Dr. Kyra Harris-Schulz on running a busy consultation service, as well as a small Palliative Care Unit, at University Hospital. We practice a significant amount of non-malignant Palliative Care, particularly in the areas of cardiology, hepatology, nephrology, and neurology (among others). There are a number of initiatives we have been excitedly working on over the past couple of years - collaborating with the Transplant Hepatology team to initiate early integrated Palliative Care into the liver transplant assessment process, collaborating with our colleagues in nephrology to expand Palliative Care services to patients with end stage renal disease on dialysis, and creating a non-malignant Palliative Care outpatient clinic that is set to begin in December.

Why did you choose to pursue teaching at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry?

I have been so inspired by many of the physicians who have taught me throughout my training. The difference just one physician can have on a student or resident in lifting them up, encouraging their dreams, and bringing to light strengths they didn’t even know they had, can be profound. I am overjoyed that I now have the potential and ability to try and be a part of that for the next generation of medical learners.

What has been your greatest experience to date in your career as a faculty member?

For me, the most wonderful experience continues to be having students and residents meet us on the first day of a rotation with either no experience in Palliative Care, or a very narrow view and experience in which they have only previously seen it as end-of-life care. I then get to watch as their mindset and view of what Palliative Care can offer to patients completely change and expand over the course of their rotation. They get to experience and understand our involvement from early on in many patients' trajectories, to help with their quality of life alongside their other physicians. Seeing a resident learn to assist with a patient’s severe pain, sit with them and understand what is important to them as a human being, and help align their personal goals with the type of care they receive is incredibly gratifying.

What inspires you in your work?

My phenomenal colleagues, the students and residents I have the great fortune to supervise, and most of all my patients. Their resilience and strength in the face of severe illness will always amaze me.

What special interests or hobbies do you have? / What do you do when you aren’t working?

I love going for long walks with my dog Blue, and reading novels – mostly Science Fiction and Fantasy - as my fun escape from reality. I also love to bake, and am often found trying a new recipe on the weekends. Lately I’m getting my toddler son involved, which makes for a messy but fun experience!