Canadian Medical Association

Dr. Meghan Kerr

Meghan Kerr

For Dr. Meghan Kerr, experiencing Canada’s epic wilderness strengthened her resolve to fight climate change.

Now in her first year of the Family Medicine Residency Program at Queen’s University, Dr. Kerr worked as an outdoor education instructor before medical school. She fondly remembers a 12-day whitewater rafting trip on the Missinaibi River in northern Ontario.

“I have always shared in the belief that our internal health is tightly interconnected with our external environment, which is a perspective grounded in Indigenous ways of knowing,” she says.

Honing her leadership skills

In 2019, Dr. Kerr co-organized a health professional presence at a climate strike rally in downtown Toronto, attracting thousands of protesters who called for urgent action on environmental issues.

“It commanded the attention of several Canadian political leaders who are well-positioned to advocate for green governmental policy,” says colleague Dr. Connor Brenna.

Dr. Kerr is also working to promote sustainability in medicine.

She co-coordinated the GreenMeds initiative, the only program in the Greater Toronto Area to help hospitals recycle medical equipment, and collaborated with the Canadian Federation of Medical Students’ HEART Committee to draft a series of planetary health competencies focusing on mental health for medical programs.

She also advocated for climate change initiatives within her own medical school, including through her role as a University of Toronto Planetary Health Campus Ambassador.

Fighting climate change on an international stage

At the international level, Dr. Kerr has offered planetary health expertise within the International Federation of Medical Students and with the World Health Organization at United Nations climate summits, where she currently leads the health working group within the youth constituency.

She has also collaborated on research with the International Network for Research on Inequalities in Child Health to explore the role of climate change in child health disparities.

“I consider Meghan to be a role model for how inclusive and responsive leadership should look,” explains Dr. Brenna.

Dr. Meghan Kerr is receiving the CMA Award for Young Leaders (Student) in recognition of her exemplary creativity, initiative and commitment to making a difference at the local, provincial/territorial or national level.

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