It never occurred to Dr. Janneke Gradstein to consider medicine as a career. She studied philosophy and languages before having an epiphany in her late twenties that she loved being practical and helping people. She surprised herself and her family when she applied to Dalhousie Medical School.  

“I have always, from my high school years, done a lot of work in social action and community development, with children and youth and special interest groups,” explained Dr. Gradstein. “I studied in different countries, and took several interesting courses, but I was not particularly focused because I was always getting drawn into projects that I was passionate about.”

Dr. Gradstein said her passion is a key ingredient to thriving in medicine. She suspects that is what got her accepted into medical school.  

Dr. Gradstein currently practices family medicine in Amherst, Nova Scotia. Not surprisingly, Dr. Gradstein’s interests remain broad.

“I am still working in the clinic that I started in after graduation and will likely work here until I retire. However, I’ve developed that from a basic private practice into a group collaborative interprofessional team,” explained Dr. Gradstein. “I also do inpatient hospitalist and nursing home care, and for the first several years I also practiced obstetrics and worked in our regional emergency department, eventually earning my emergency medicine designation. I recently left emergency medicine and have been focusing more on health care leadership,” said Dr. Gradstein.

Dr. Gradstein said her dream practice opportunity is the one she is currently in, primarily because she can explore all her interests. She explained that Nova Scotia is large and central enough in the Maritimes that you are connected to good resources and feel supported to do your best work, but also small enough that the system is responsive and nimble and isn’t as bogged down in bureaucracy as larger provinces and health systems.

“This is a community where you can get involved – both medically or in the broader community – and feel supported and know you are making a difference,” said Dr. Gradstein. “I love it here because you can enjoy country living and city amenities but it’s not busy or crowded. I work at a regional hospital, but I can go weeks without seeing a traffic light. You can’t go wrong here; we have it all.”

Outside of practicing medicine, Dr. Gradstein still enjoys working with youth, especially with her teenaged boys and all their friends. She helps run a mentoring class for elementary school-aged children. She enjoys long-distance running, biking, swimming, weight training at the gym and kayaking every single day. Dr. Gradstein also enjoys spending time at her a cottage on the ocean.


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