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Meet the new president of Doctors Nova Scotia: Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie

In the midst of the COVID-19 crisis, Doctors Nova Scotia (DNS) welcomes the new 2020–21 President, Dr. Robyn MacQuarrie.

Dr. MacQuarrie is an obstetrician and gynecologist at South Shore Women’s Health in Bridgewater, N.S. Since 2015, she has served as the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s (NSHA) northern zone department head of women and children’s health. During her presidency, she is taking a leave of absence from her role with the NSHA.

She graduated from Dalhousie Medical School in 2006 and received her specialty from the Royal College of Physician and Surgeons of Canada in 2011. She has served as chair for the DNS section of obstetrics and gynecology since 2015 and has been the section forum chair and member of the DNS Board of Directors since 2016.

A dedicated leader and patient advocate, Dr. MacQuarrie has presented internationally for the inclusion of pregnant women in clinical trials. She is also a proponent of patient rights to assisted dying and provides medical assistance in dying services.

Dr. MacQuarrie believes that Nova Scotia physicians deserve an informed and passionate leader to serve them as the president of their association.

“It’s my job to understand the needs of the physicians in Nova Scotia and seek innovative solutions,” she said. “I am committed to fully understanding the complexities of the problems facing the membership before the association seeks solutions.”

In addition to her formal leadership positions, she has maintained her passion as a women’s health advocate. Along with others, she campaigned successfully to improve reproductive rights on Prince Edward Island. She saw the injustice women faced who were forced to leave the island because they could not access abortion.

“At the end of this hard-fought battle, P.E.I. women now have access to the full services of a reproductive care centre, which offers much more than abortion services. This demonstrates how problems can serve as opportunities to provide the services needed by the population, rather than a service in isolation.”

She credits the success to a balance of engaged grassroots organizations, academics, media, government, local health leadership and legal scholars.

“The education I gained over the course of the three-year battle is more profound and more extensive than any single learning opportunity can ever provide.”

Outside of medicine, Dr. MacQuarrie says her family is the support system she values above all else. Growing up in a military family, she spent her childhood years on the move with her parents and sister.

“We had many adventures and faced so much change,” she recalled. “It was always the four of us. Living far away from extended family, I also learned that family is how you choose to define it.”

Now a mother of two, she loves that her family lives on the same street as her parents and her sister’s family in the tight-knit community of Porters Lake, N.S. “I love my jobs and my patients, but the best feeling is arriving home at the end of the day.”

On the professional front, Dr. MacQuarrie acknowledges the last few years have been challenging for physician leaders in Nova Scotia. Although last year wrought some positive changes, there is still work to do.

“I am acutely aware of the many changes that have taken place in the landscape of health services in Nova Scotia and I’m committed to helping physicians find their place and to feel optimistic about their future and their ability to help shape and influence the landscape.”