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Our Residents Are Health Advocates

Part 5 of 7

Sunita Chacko
PGY2 Family Medicine Resident

Dr. Sunita Chacko

Dr. Sunita Chacko

One of the most valuable things I have learned as a family medicine resident is the importance of counseling patients on health promotion and disease prevention. Taking the time to help patients understand how lifestyle and behavioural changes can lead to healthier outcomes has great potential to change both the patient and the environment in which we work. Family medicine has given me the opportunity to train in many settings, from obstetrics to palliative care, and everything in between. I have met many patients—whether they are two or 92, people’s stories are always interesting!

A health advocate is someone who assists their patients in navigating a sometimes complex and overwhelming health care system. A health advocate takes the time to learn about available resources and connects their patients with these resources. A health advocate also recognizes that advocacy can often go beyond the realm of the medical system. Health is intimately tied to socioeconomics, culture and social networks, and advocacy incorporates that understanding into patient care. Equally as important is advocacy in the realm of policy change, on governmental levels spanning from municipal to federal. We have a unique opportunity to bring our experiences at the bedside or at the front lines of primary care to the forefront to negotiate change.

Calgary is a dynamic and growing environment with many opportunities. No matter what area you are interested in, there is someone to support you in that interest. I hope to practice in both the community and acute care setting so that I can serve a wide variety of patients as a family doctor.


In their role as Health Advocates, physicians learn to responsibly use their expertise and influence in order to advance the health and well-being of patients, communities, and populations. We train our residents to:

1. Respond to individual patient health needs and issues;

2. Respond to the health needs of the communities that they serve;

3. Identify the determinants of health of the populations that they serve;

4. Promote the health of individual patients, communities, and       populations.*

*Copyright The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada

About the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary
UCalgary’s Faculty of Medicine is a national leader in health research with an international reputation for excellence and innovation in health care research, education and delivery. Through its educational programs, the Faculty of Medicine trains the physicians and scientists who will lead the next generation of health practitioners. Through its clinical work, continuing medical education programs and close relationship with Alberta Health Services, the Faculty of Medicine moves new treatments and diagnostic techniques from the laboratory bench to the hospital bedside efficiently and effectively, improving patient care.
For more information visit http://medicine.ucalgary.ca.

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2008 University of Calgary – Faculty of Medicine. All rights reserved.

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