FRESH FACES || Jillian Popel

Jillian Popel joins the Division of Hospital Medicine and the Child and Adolescent Protection Centre at the Stollery Children's Hospital.

Judith Chrystal - 13 September 2017

In this Q & A, new clinical lecturer Jillian Popel shares insights about her background in child maltreatment pediatrics, a unique field of medicine that works hand-in-hand with community partners such as the police and children's services.

First of all, welcome to UAlberta as a new faculty member. While your role is new, you are not a stranger to this university. What is your academic background?

I did my medical school training here at UAlberta, and graduated in 2012. Then I did my pediatric residency here and completed that in 2016. Last year I did a one-year fellowship in child maltreatment pediatrics, mostly here, in collaboration with the University of Toronto. Now I am working half-time as a hospitalist and half-time with the Child and Adolescent Protection Centre at the Stollery Children's Hospital.

How did you get involved in the area of child maltreatment―what drew you in?

I never would have imagined that I would be doing what I'm doing now. I became interested in child maltreatment, or child protection, after I did a rotation in my second year of residency. It was a month-long rotation and after that I was really interested in the field. I also really like general pediatrics and the second part of my position is doing half-time hospitalist medicine. I like that both are very general, they deal with all areas of medicine and the different subspecialties, so that's one thing I really like about it.

Child maltreatment is a very unique area of medicine because we deal a lot with our community partners, such as the police and children's services. I like working with non-medical people and teaching them about the medical injuries and explaining the medical piece if children come in and we're suspecting maltreatment.

There was an opportunity for you to apply for a position here as current faculty member Lionel Dibden is transitioning out of the Child and Adolescent Protection Centre to retirement. What is your work at the centre?

Yes. We are both working half-time there now, with a few others. We deal with medical evaluations of children where there is a concern about maltreatment. That can include physical abuse, sexual abuse. Those are the cases we most typically get involved with, doing medical assessments of those children. We work through the medical investigation and communicate with our community partners, so the police doing their investigation or children's services making a safety plan.

I directly see patients, both in-patients and out-patients. And then we also collaborate with the Zebra Centre, which is a multidisciplinary centre in downtown Edmonton where they interview children with concerns of maltreatment as well.

Do you get referrals from family physicians and pediatricians?

Yes, and sometimes not even physicians. It could be from children's services workers as well. If there is a question about something medical, this kid has a bruise or a broken bone, for instance, then that's how we get involved.

It seems pretty intense. Does the hospital medicine side of your job give you balance?

It is intense and it's nice to have that other part of my job in hospital medicine. Balance is important, and I like the hospital medicine part of it because it gives you a different perspective of things. We see everything here at the Stollery and hospital medicine patients can range in age from babies to adolescents. I like complex medical issues as well.

We've talked a lot about the clinical aspects of your work, what about the academic opportunities?

We have opportunities for teaching and I'm really interested in education. We work with pediatric residents who rotate through the Child and Adolescent Protection Centre, so I get to do some teaching in that way. And then I do academic half-day sessions and lots of teaching on the ward when I'm doing my Clinical Teaching Unit work.

Jillian Popel's one-year fellowship in child maltreatment pediatrics at the University of Alberta was made possible through a collaboration with University of Toronto and generously funded by the Stollery Children's Hospital Foundation.