In the spotlight: Dr. Trina Stewart

Dr. Trina Stewart

“I don’t know if there was ever a time in my life when I wasn’t thinking about being a physician,” said Dr. Trina Stewart, a family physician in Summerside. “I grew up in Perth-Andover, New Brunswick. When I was in Grade 11, I sent letters to medical faculties all over Canada and the U.S. I even sent one to Columbia, for goodness’ sake,” she added with a laugh.

“It sounds cliché, but I wanted to serve others.”

     – Dr. Trina Stewart

Dr. Stewart was charting the course that would take her to a medical degree. For her undergrad, she studied biology and histology at Acadia University.  She applied to Memorial University’s medical school in her fourth year.

“I ended up on the waiting list,” she said. “I returned to Acadia for a fifth year. It was honestly the first time I considered I might need a Plan B.”

Dr. Stewart was all packed up and ready to move to Montreal to study maternal and infant nutrition when she got the call from MUN medical school. She was in.

“I stayed up all night that night, thinking,” she said. “I had worked my entire life for this. If I didn’t go, I’d regret it. But at the same time, I had made alternative plans! I had made commitments.”

Dr. Stewart said “yes” to MUN, and the rest is history. She had just two weeks to change her whole life around.

“It’s funny, being ‘a come from away’ in Newfoundland, I remember constantly complaining about the cold and the fog,” said Dr. Stewart. “Looking back? It was the best experience of my life - and the small cohort of people who went through it with me are now physicians all over Canada and the world, making a difference every day.”

Dr. Stewart moved to Summerside to practice family medicine in 2002.

“I’ve been in this practice more than 20 years,” she said. “That’s long enough to really get the nuance of a family. I know more about you because I’ve treated your dad, your cousin, and your daughter. The babies I treated when I first arrived are having babies! That’s a really special role to play and I carry with me a piece of every patient I’ve ever treated. Always.”

Dr. Stewart said family medicine has given her freedom she has always valued. In 2009, she became a curriculum coordinator for PEI site of the Family Medicine Residency Program of Dalhousie Medical School. She is past president of the Medical Society of PEI. She is an active staff member at Prince County Hospital. She has recently embarked on a new role: medical advisor for primary care renewal, which is completely rethinking the way we provide primary care on PEI.

Dr. Stewart believes the past two years of the pandemic have exposed large cracks in the healthcare system.

Dr. Stewart in Scotland with her niece Chelsea, son Dexter, and daughter Lindsay.
Image caption: 
Dr. Stewart in Scotland with her niece Chelsea, son Dexter, and daughter Lindsay.

“Those cracks were there, but the strain of COVID has just made them more apparent,” she said. “One big thing: physicians are burning out in record numbers. How are we able to care for our patients well, if we are unable to take good care of ourselves? That is why I’m so excited for the collaborative team-based approach to medicine that is emerging, which will allow physicians to be better supported and therefore improve access and care for our patients.”

Dr. Stewart sees real opportunity in working with allied health professionals.

“These people are trained to do so much more." she said. “The collaborative approach promotes everyone working to full scope, giving us all a bit of breathing room. We can work smarter, not harder and in the end, it will allow for better, more timely care.”

Looking back, what she’s most proud of from her career is something outside of her practice.

“I’ve raised two terrific kids,” she said. “My son Dexter is 21, is currently on a university exchange doing a semester in Edinburgh. My daughter Lindsay is graduating from high school this year and is heading to the University of Guelph for marine and freshwater biology in the fall. I’m just really proud of them. They’re my best work, for sure.”

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Published date: 
May 10, 2022
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