In 2011 I retired from being a pediatric cardiac surgeon due to increasing health concerns and a dissatisfaction in practicing medicine. Over the years, I slowly came to realize that I held a belief about medicine, about being a doctor, which was no longer aligning with my core personality. I had become a surgeon with the belief that I was doing something important, i.e. saving children’s lives. This belief started to erode as I entered the latter part of my career, following a series of adversarial events. That belief, that had guided my entire career and life, no longer held up under the scrutiny of living in retirement…
Jacques Leblanc has been an adult and pediatric cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon at British Columbia’s Children’s Hospital, Vancouver, British Columbia. He retired 4 years ago after 35 years of practice and found himself looking to understand and develop his interests beyond the practice of medicine. In so doing Jacques realized that he had a lot to give back to his profession in the way of experience as a doctor, a teacher, a student of life, a husband and a human being in this rapidly changing world.
Jacques was instrumental in developing multiple areas of pediatric cardiac surgery and adult congenital surgery in Vancouver including a quality assurance program and a surgical database for the pediatric cardiovascular program while remaining at the forefront of technological advances. More recently, his work experience involved teaching overseas, directing a team of colleagues and healthcare professionals in the training of staff at the Fudan University Children’s Hospital of Shanghai. Jacques was also personally involved in teaching and training the pediatric cardiac surgical staff at Apollo Children’s Hospital of Chennai, India. Earlier in his career he co-authored a medical book, “The Operative and Post Operative Management of Congenital Heart Defects” published in 1992 as well as publishing 74 medical articles and delivering 96 verbal presentations.
Jacques Leblanc has been married to Susan since 2001 and together they have forged a strong and loving relationship. Susan and Jacques are constantly and consistently merging their talents and interests to create opportunities for personal and professional growth. Their love of travel has taken them many places in the world and they cherish the relationships and experiences along the way that have contributed to who they are today.
Susan LeBlanc initially trained as a nurse, completing her BScN at the University of British Columbia in 1986 and a Master of Health Sciences at McMaster University in 1990. She found a deep love in caring for adults and children undergoing treatment for cancer and this formed the basis of her educational studies and work experience for over 20 years. Susan has held various positions clinically, administratively and educationally that have informed her perspective and developed her skills in working with people of all backgrounds.
Laterally, Susan formed her own consulting business specializing in visioning, strategic planning and implementation of health services. In parallel to this work she began an ongoing exploration into her own creativity through the art of intuitive painting or what Susan now calls, “The Art of Becoming”. It has been a journey into the deeper reaches of her soul that has nourished her heart and opened herself to creative potential. Susan’s journey has shown her the importance of recognizing and developing the creativity that dwells within each of us and how that can be central to our sense of well-being.
Jacques and Susan are grateful for the opportunity that they have to create, to work with and to share their experience with those who are looking for more in their professional and personal lives.
In 2011 I retired from being a pediatric cardiac surgeon due to increasing health concerns and a dissatisfaction in practicing medicine. Over the years, I slowly came to realize that I held a belief about medicine, about being a doctor, which was no longer aligning with my core personality. I had become a surgeon with the belief that I was doing something important, i.e. saving children’s lives. This belief started to erode as I entered the latter part of my career, following a series of adversarial events. That belief, that had guided my entire career and life, no longer held up under the scrutiny of living in retirement.
Frequently and repeatedly I was asked, “What do you do everyday?”. The inquiries, while well meaning, were also confining. I tried actively to shed my identity as a physician and capture the dream of my youth, to be a beach bum on the shores of Laguna Beach. For a while that did the trick, putting on my short and shirt rather than my suit and tie. That tremendous feeling of freedom lead me to explore a sense of myself that was more than being “Dr. Jacques LeBlanc, Cardiac Surgeon.”
I also found, that in my attempt to live my dream, I was quick to dismiss and marginalize my contribution to the lives of many patients, friends, family and colleagues that I had cared for and worked with for over 40 years. I was at an impasse and felt the old tendrils of dissatisfaction creeping around me again. Never one to sit around and wait for things to happen, I took the suggestion of my wife, to put my learning and reflections in a book that others may benefit from. That experience lit the flame of my current passion, championing physician health and wellness.
As physicians we are healers who seek everyday to make the lives of patients and families better, so that they, can go on to live their dreams big or small. The work we do has become increasingly influenced by administrative, logistical, financial, legal, personal and social demands that significantly alter the way we are perceived, how we work within the system and our ability to care for patients. At the same time, the stress of these demands creeps up on us and affects our health and wellbeing.
As a thought leader in my profession, I have come to realize the importance of identifying the influences and removing barriers that lead to physician burnout and disengagement within our healthcare system. These barriers are not just in the system they are also in the way we choose to deal with them; in our thoughts, beliefs, expectations and choices.
My experience has inspired my wife and I to combine our skills and shared passion for personal growth and development into LeBlanc Wellness.