January 20, 2023

Dr Janet Evans has a passion for building: whether it’s effective teams, better systems, enhanced knowledge and capacity, or Lego.

The newest member of FPSC’s physician caucus is excited to be joining at such a pivotal time.

Here, in her own words, Janet reflects on her journey, leadership, team-based care, and raising a family while building a family practice. 

I was inspired to pursue medicine from a young age

My mom was a microbiology lab tech. I loved to visit her at work, watching her do gram stains and plating various specimens onto petri dishes. I thought it was very cool and confirmed that medicine was a good choice for me. I decided I would be a doctor, and no one told me I couldn’t.  

I took a bit of a circuitous route into family medicine

I began with a BSc Pharmacy in 1989 from University of Alberta (UA) and worked in hospital pharmacy in Edmonton before starting medical school at UA in 1991. I was matched to obstetrics and gynecology but switched to family medicine after giving birth to my first child at the end of my PGY1.

I thought family practice might work better for family life and was fortunate to switch positions with a resident in family practice who wanted to do obstetrics. Family practice has provided me with many varied opportunities, of which I have definitely taken advantage.

I look at family practice through the lens of a family physician, with a family

I’ve had four children since becoming a family physician: my first in my residency, my second in my first year of practice, and twins, shortly after opening a new office in Kelowna in 2002. I left family practice after having my twins and worked solely as a surgical assistant for about 9 years. Eventually, I thought I should return to family practice and did, in 2014.

My two older boys are in university and my youngest will graduate grade 12 this year.

I realized it was okay to try things and fail

In 2014, after a 10-year hiatus, I returned to family practice and wondered how it was possible that the world, and technology, had changed so much, yet family practice was still the same? There had to be a better way.

I had an idea to hire a nurse to support me so I could focus on being a family doctor. But as a solo practitioner, it wasn’t financially feasible.

On the heels of that failure, I was asked to help pilot the nurse-in-practice program in the Central Okanagan. I had just opened CGB Medical and took over a complex panel from a retiring physician. I was swamped. Knowing I would have support from a nurse, who could help me manage my panel, was a huge benefit to me and my patients.

After taking the Clinician Quality Academy through the BC Patient Quality and Safety Council, I became a quality improvement zealot. I love that quality improvement allows me to try (and fail) at trying to do things better. I love creating systems and efficiencies to make sure stuff gets done in the best and most efficient way.

Team-based care is a big deal for me

Team-based care changed the course of my family practice and kept me working when I might have said I just don’t think I can do this.

My goal is to further share enablers for team-based care and encourage all physicians to work in team-based care. The PCN was intended to provide team-based care for family physicians. There have been successes and challenges in the PCN that have been acknowledged; we now have the opportunity to circle back and make the PCNs better, with the PCN governance refresh. That’s quality improvement. And that is super exciting for me.

I have a bit of an obsession with Lego

Growing up with two brothers, I played with a lot of Lego. Having four boys, we had lots of Lego too.  We loved Star Wars, Lord of the Rings, and other movie-themed Lego sets. We have an extensive collection of Lego sets, including my most recent obsession, cars: VW Beetle, Mini Cooper, a Fiat, and two Volkswagen vans.

I like gardening – though on a small scale. I love to watch things grow. I enjoy spending time outside on the water in the beautiful Okanagan, swimming, paddle boarding, and kayaking.

I also enjoy travelling with good friends I’ve known since I was 13. I would like to go on a Mediterranean or Baltic Sea cruise, and drive across North America in a camper van.