2008 – Newfoundland and Labrador

Dr Judy Ophel has chosen to work her 27 years as a family physician in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. The patients who have experienced her care feel they are very lucky to be recipients of Judy’s expertise and compassion.

A medical graduate of Queen’s University in 1979, Judy was certified in Family Medicine in 1994. In 1981 she began her practice in Botwood, NL, before moving in 1994 to the Melville Hospital and Labrador Health Centre in Goose Bay.

As a rural family doctor, Judy’s work is varied: office-based, in-patient, emergency, obstetrical and palliative care. She also makes regular outreach visits, initially to Makkovik on the coast of Labrador and now to the Innu community of Sheshatshiu. Judy is highly respected for her clear direction and is referred to as a ‘rock of sense’.

Throughout her career, Judy has taught medical students and residents. She is currently Assistant Professor in Family Medicine for Memorial University. From 1997 to 2002 she was the Director of the NorFam Program – northern education that is part of family medicine training at Memorial.

Judy was President of the Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter of the College of Family Physicians of Canada in 1995-96 and is a recipient of the YK Jeon Award for Rural Preceptor of the Year as well as the C Robert Kemp Palliative Care Scholarship.

Judy and her husband, John, have two children: Matthew and Emily. An outdoor enthusiast, Judy enjoys skiing, snowshoeing, canoeing and travelling to their remote cabin. Indoors, she sings in the choir and recently learned to play the piano.

“I have always loved family practice. It continues to offer variety, challenges and opportunities to learn. My work has meaning to me: I believe that by helping one person at a time, I can help to heal individuals, their families and communities and make a difference in the world.”

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