Latest transfusion medicine trainees begin their studies

Tuesday, September 28, 2021 Dr. Geraldine Walsh
A woman speaking at a podium
Dr. Elianna Saidenberg addresses corporate supporters and partners at an event in Ottawa in March 2019.

Honouring Dr. Elianna Saidenberg’s legacy

Since 1999, the Canadian Blood Services Transfusion Medicine Traineeship Award has been supporting physicians to enter the field of transfusion medicine. In 2020, the award was renamed the Elianna Saidenberg Transfusion Medicine Traineeship Award to honour Dr. Saidenberg’s contributions to Canada’s blood system. The renaming of this impactful training award to honour Dr. Saidenberg’s legacy is fitting tribute. A tireless advocate for patients, Dr. Saidenberg leaves behind a lasting legacy of compassionate care. As well as her numerous clinical contributions, Dr. Saidenberg was a passionate educator. A transfusion medicine trainee herself in 2008, the foundational contributions she made to the design of the Areas of Focused Competence (AFC) diploma in transfusion medicine during her traineeship continue to inform successful content delivery to this day.

While paying tribute to Dr. Saidenberg during the 2021 CSTM Annual Scientific Conference, Dr. Alan Tinmouth described her commitment to teaching medical students at the University of Ottawa. Dr. Saidenberg was recognized with multiple awards for her teaching and she supervised dozens of trainees conducting research projects. As Dr. Tinmouth noted during his CSTM address, Dr. Saidenberg took great pride in engaging medical students in research in transfusion medicine, and always found time for the many students and projects she supervised.

Introducing the recent award recipients

The latest recipients of the Elianna Saidenberg Transfusion Medicine Traineeship Award are beginning their studies in 2021-2022:

  • Dr. Laura Tapley will complete her training at the University of British Columbia under the supervision of Andrew Shih. She started in July 2021. Dr Tapley is a graduate of the University of Manitoba, where she completed medical school and subsequently completed training in internal medicine and a fellowship in hematology. Dr. Tapley is passionate about improving patient care through medical education and has an interest in clinical and transfusion care for patients with hemoglobinopathies. Outside of medicine, Laura enjoys getting outdoors to run, hike, and cross-country ski.
  • Dr. Bryan Tordon will complete his training at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Wendy Lau. He also started in July 2021. Dr. Tordon is a graduate of the University of Manitoba, where he completed medical school, as well as training in internal medicine and a fellowship in hematology. His interests within transfusion medicine include knowledge translation and the improvement of blood conservation practices. Among his hobbies, Bryan enjoys playing tennis, collecting music, and spending time outdoors.
  • Dr. Heather VanderMeulen will complete her training at the University of Toronto under the supervision of Wendy Lau starting in January 2022. Dr VanderMeulen attended medical school at McMaster University and completed her internal medicine and hematology training at the University of Toronto. Her academic interests lie in the intersection between transfusion medicine and maternal-fetal hematology. Heather loves to ski and spend time with her husband and son.

Supporting the training of transfusion medicine physicians in Canada for over 20 years

“The field of transfusion medicine is a vital aspect of the practice of medicine. Unfortunately, few young physicians are entering this field. Although there may now be a sufficient number of physicians practicing transfusion medicine, a shortage is inevitable if no measures are taken to prevent it.”

                                         Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada, 1997

Over two decades ago, the Commission of Inquiry on the Blood System in Canada highlighted the need for action to be taken to ensure enough doctors are trained to become experts in transfusion medicine. In response, Canadian Blood Services established the Transfusion Medicine Traineeship Award in 1999. The award supports physicians to enter the field of transfusion medicine through the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada Area of Focused Competence (AFC) diploma program in transfusion medicine by providing salary support and travel expenses on a competitive basis.

Recipients of the diploma are transfusion medicine specialists serving patients by working in hospitals across the country or for the blood operators, and many are recognized international leaders in transfusion medicine and education. As noted by Dr. Matthew Yan, the Programme Chair of the Canadian Blood Services Medicine Training Programme, “Many who have come through the Traineeship have transformed the practice of transfusion medicine in Canada, such as Dr. Saidenberg herself.  As the field becomes more complex in its offerings, it is important that we continue to train physicians in transfusion medicine to best serve our patients, donors and the overall health care system.”

Since 1999, 45 trainees have completed transfusion medicine training, eighteen of whom were supported by the Canadian Blood Services traineeship awards.

Canadian Blood Services – Driving world-class innovation

Through discovery, development and applied research, Canadian Blood Services drives world-class innovation in blood transfusion, cellular therapy and transplantation—bringing clarity and insight to an increasingly complex healthcare future. Our dedicated research team and extended network of partners engage in exploratory and applied research to create new knowledge, inform and enhance best practices, contribute to the development of new services and technologies, and build capacity through training and collaboration. Find out more about our research impact.

The opinions reflected in this post are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Canadian Blood Services nor do they reflect the views of Health Canada or any other funding agency.


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