Thursday, October 13, 2011

Gals We Admire: Ali Zentner


She's a specialist in internal medicine, obesity and cardiac risk management. In spite of her demanding role, Ali Zentner makes it a point to bike every day and swim twice a week. Find out more about the physically active physician.
Name: Ali Zentner
Profession: Physician, Specialist in Internal Medicine, Obesity and Cardiac Risk Management
Twitter handle: @AliZentner

Describe your typical work day, from start to finish
My day is anything but typical! I get up every morning at 6:30 am and get a coffee and walk my dogs. This is followed by a 15 km bike ride to work and then a full day of clinic at my office. In a typical day, I see about 25 patients with a variety of medical problems. At about 6 pm, I ride home through Stanley Park and usually do an extra loop around. Twice a week I stop at Second Beach Pool for a swim and get home by 8 pm at the latest. I spend the rest of the evening reading, watching television or having a good meal out with friends.

One weekend a month I fly to a small town in British Columbia or Alberta and am a locum doctor on call for Internal Medicine and Intensive Care. There is a lot of variety in my everyday and it can sometimes be a challenge. It keeps things fresh and new. I like having different roles in work and in life. Life is about balance and I'm still trying to find the right one.

When you were a kid, what did you want to grow up to be?
Sounds crazy but I wanted to be on Broadway in a musical. When I was nine, my parents bought me the Broadway recording to Woman of the Year with Lauren Bacall. I performed the entire thing in my living room until the tape warped. It was all I ever imagined I would do. My father had different plans for me—he definitely wanted me to be a doctor. I loved school and loved my father even more. Broadway was just not meant to be.

What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love interacting with patients and their families. People fascinate me—their behaviours both good and bad. I love taking a bad situation whatever it may be and at least trying to make it better. I’ve always said that I get to walk around in people’s lives for a while. My only hope is that I make sure I tread softly and don’t mess things up too dramatically.

What do you find to be the biggest challenge in your profession?
People want a real human being as a doctor. Human beings make mistakes. I am challenged by the same constraints as everyone—I can only do so much and there is never enough time. I think the biggest challenge in medicine is the balance between being a human being with regular limitations and between being a compassionate, empathetic and knowledgeable doctor. The human brain is only so big and the field of medicine is expanding exponentially. Despite that, sometimes diseases do not have treatments and bad things happen to wonderful people. Make no mistake, my job is amazing and I’m lucky to do what I do. My good days are incredible. My bad days can really suck.

Do you believe you had a "calling" for your profession?
Ten years in practice and I'd like to think I was meant to do this. I love it and I hope I’m good at it. I don’t believe we are born to do any one thing in particular. We’re born to make a difference in the world and make our mark—how we do that is just geography.

What are the three most important pieces of career advice you would give to other Canadian Career Gals?
Find a balance in your life—you can’t be everything to everyone else and expect to be fulfilled in life in every way. Take time for yourself and you will be more effective in whatever you do.

Be forgiving of yourself. Mistakes are a part of learning and we are often better for them. Try and learn something new everyday about yourself, the world and others in it. It can be as frivolous as a new fashion or as serious as a chemistry equation. I think it’s really important not to shy away from things out of fear that we may not be perfect at them.

Never settle for status quo. The world has enough mediocrity in it that we should always strive to be a part of solutions and not a part of problems. Most of us act in our own self interests. Sometimes it's not a bad idea to give back a little and see where it takes you.

1 comment:

  1. You Rock Girl ...
    Miss riding with you!
    Big Hugs