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Who We Are: Dr. Amanda Bell

“It’s important that we better train doctors to cope with the demands of medical practice, so that more of them will stay well” – Dr. Amanda Bell, Niagara, Regional Assistant Dean, Associate Clinical Professor

Physician tackles Niagara doctor shortage

Family doctor Amanda Bell tries to help patients by supporting their doctors – and training new ones.

“Our communities depend on bringing in more doctors and ensuring the ones we have can meet the demands on them,” says Amanda, the Regional Assistant Dean of the Niagara Regional Campus at McMaster University’s Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

She also reserves one day a week for family practice.

It’s a window to the sobering realities impacting her profession, which is experiencing elevated rates of burnout, mental illness and even suicide among doctors of all disciplines, along with family doctor shortages across all Niagara communities.

“A patient can be crying in my office for 45 minutes, and I can be with her, and help her find resources, but I know I can’t heal her pain,” Amanda says.

“There’s a waiting-room full of patients, and others who couldn’t be fit in.”

Most family doctors wouldn’t change jobs for the world, she adds, “but we do need to help each other, and support each other in staying well throughout our careers.”

Physician at heart

Amanda raised two children as a full time physician before accepting the leadership of the Niagara campus of the medical school in 2017.

It was tough to leave full-time practice, she says.

“I loved my patients, but this role allows me to impact many more people by supporting local doctors and training the next generation. For me, that made the decision easier.”

Amanda chose Family Medicine after graduating from Arts and Science at McMaster University in 1995.

After medical school at McMaster, she completed residency in her hometown of Ottawa before settling into a rural practice in Port Colborne, with her husband, Barclay.

Building on a vision

Throughout her career, she’s been increasingly involved in leadership roles in medical education, enjoying many teaching roles.

As Regional Assistant Dean, she works with the medical school to develop local opportunities and medical training, while advocating for resources in the community.

Niagara communities offer much to attract physicians, she adds.

“I always wanted to practice in a small town. I still get to be that person and that means a lot, but my current role is important to many communities, including my own,” she says.

Written by: Elizabeth Meen

McMaster University Department of Family MedicineMichael G. DeGroote School of Medicine