The secret life of Anita Reff

Tamara Vineberg - 29 January 2021


Anita Reff began her career at the University of Alberta in 2001 and joined the Department of Pediatrics as a program administrator five years later. We spent some time with her to learn about her personal passions.

Why do you love working in the Department of Pediatrics?

I’ve had the opportunity to work with some talented people and I’ve learned a lot. I have a certain amount of freedom to do what I think is appropriate for the Emergency Medicine Residency Program. I am lucky I’ve been with people who encouraged me to try new ideas.

You are very creative outside of work. How did you become involved with creative writing?

When I was young, I discovered music, in particular, musical theatre, and fell in love! As a teenager, it was a wonderful way for me to express many emotions. It gave me an opportunity to take on characters who had experiences and emotions I never had. I later discovered that with writing I get to not only roll around in the characters, but I create them. For me, writing is very cathartic.

You’ve written a short story for an Edmonton anthology. Where did the idea for the story come from?

I’ve been connected with a writing group for about 18 months. They’ve put out a couple of anthologies throughout the years. This was the first one that I was able to be a part of. They decide on a theme, and give us creative license when incorporating it. In this case, the topic was maps. Everyone chose how they were going to integrate maps into their narrative. After developing my characters, I wrote my story on a weekend. Once I started, I opened a floodgate. The entire story just rolled out, which was fantastic. I didn’t have to think how to write it. But I had think how to incorporate a map.

What is the premise of the story?

A Map to Heaven is based in Jamaica and is the story of two imperfect people who come together in circumstances they didn’t expect and discover love.

Is there a creative aspect of yourself that you haven’t explored yet?

I’m working on a novel, which takes up a good chunk of my spare time. However, I’ve always wanted to compose a song. I'm hoping at some point that I can return to the theatre, do some more singing, write a song, and publish a couple novels. Oh, and become a motivational speaker!

How else have you been keeping yourself busy?

Exercise has become more a part of my life in the past year. I’ve been on this journey for about 18 months to become healthy. I’m exercising 40 minutes before I get ready for work. I take a walk part way through the day, and then I’m weight training three times a week.

For more information about the Edmonton Writers’ Group, visit the website.
Read about the anthology, All Mapped Out, here.

Do you know someone in our department who has a passion outside of work and is willing to share it? Contact Tamara Vineberg at