Ask Dr. Renee Walker about what inspires her day-to-day, and her face lights up. “What I absolutely love is when I come in and meet with people and talk to them. A lot of them have been through very tough situations, and when we work together they can turn things around. I love seeing how they work themselves into a better, healthier mindset. It’s really inspiring to see.”
Dr. Walker, whose education and experience in anesthesiology, acute care, teaching and family practice has taken her across the globe, has been part of our INLIV Total Health Management program since 2015. The inspiration she gains from speaking with her patients is reflected in what she enjoys the most about her practice: “I really enjoy working one-on-one with patients, having really good discussions about what matters to them, how they can improve their health and educating them about their options. I’m here to advocate for them.”
“I really enjoy working one-on-one with patients, having really good discussions about what matters to them, how they can improve their health and educating them about their options. I’m here to advocate for them.”
Born and raised in South Africa, Dr. Walker’s caring nature was evident as a youth, as her path to becoming a physician began with her love of animals. “I wanted to be a vet. I totally love animals and wanted to help them.” After realizing that owners do not always have the financial means to provide care for their animals, Dr. Renee decided medicine might be more her style. “I could always help people, usually finances are not a major deterrent as they can be with veterinary services, and so I thought medicine would be a better fit.”
Dr. Walker trained as a MD at the University of the Witwatersrand, and also holds a Diploma in Anesthesiology. She gained experience in acute care while working in the UK for a year before relocating to rural Saskatchewan and flying into remote northern communities. She then settled into family practice in Prince Albert, where she practiced for five years and met her husband, Richard.
“When I worked in Saskatchewan I was able to do family practice combined with anesthesiology, and that was perfect. I could see my patients in a different perspective and apply my expertise in pain management. I put anesthesiology aside and stepped into managing general day-to-day problems, and I actually find it more interesting because there is a huge spectrum of issues. One minute you will encounter a sick child, then manage a pregnant woman, and thereafter you will evaluate a geriatric patient with their complex issues. They are polar opposites and I find this very stimulating across the spectrum.”
Dr. Walker and her husband travelled to Boston where she was on faculty at a Family Practice Residency affiliated with Harvard, Tufts and Boston University. Dr. Walker holds the MRCGP (Member of Royal College of General Practitioners- UK), ABFP (American Board of FP) as well as the CCFP (Canadian College of Family Physicians). She still enjoys teaching and examines medical students and doctors on a regular basis for the Medical Council of Canada.
“Knowing I have all the time I need with patients, that we can really get to the nitty gritty, do a lot of the preventative-type medicine before things become a major deal, that I have time to talk to them about it, educate them, have discussions. That’s a big draw to working at INLIV.”
When Dr. Renee arrived at INLIV, she knew she had found a special place for her family practice. “Knowing I have all the time I need with patients, that we can really get to the nitty gritty, do a lot of the preventative-type medicine before things become a major deal, that I have time to talk to them about it, educate them, have discussions. That’s a big draw to working at INLIV.”
Outside of her work at INLIV, Dr. Walker maintains an active family life with her husband and their three children, who participate in such diverse activities as water polo, freestyle skiing, running marathons and equestrian events. In fact, she shares a passion for show jumping with her eldest daughter: “I have always loved horses. I have been riding since I was 10 years old and have been lucky enough at some points to have horses. I show jumped mainly at Spruce Meadows and travelled around North America. Now I’ve stepped down because of time commitments, and my daughter has stepped up. She’s jumping and competing and I love supporting her.”
The family also shares a love of travel and makes it a point to take a trip once a year. “I often don’t tell them where we are going – it’s a surprise. And the day before we travel they ask, ‘what should I pack?’ We’ve experienced some amazing trips – such as a dude ranch in Colorado, cycling through Tuscany, safaris in Africa, and backpacking through Peru and the Amazon. It’s such an incredible opportunity and learning experience.”
While we can’t wait to hear all about her next big trip across the world, we are thrilled that Dr. Walker has chosen to call Calgary her home and that she continues to be an invaluable member of our INLIV team.