Have You Met … Shirley Schipper?

Meet Shirley Schipper, Vice Dean, Education in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.

Shirley Schipper, Vice Dean, Education, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.

Have you met Shirley Schipper, Vice Dean, Education for the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry? Spend a few minutes getting to know her better.

What is your first U of A memory?

I remember the early days sitting at a payphone for hours entering my course requests into a phone line, calling back several times to get the right labs and classes and praying to get into the ones I wanted. When you received that confirmation of your timetable, it felt like putting in the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle, or winning a prize.

What’s something your coworkers don’t know about you?

I think my close coworkers mostly know this now (I’ve been around a while), but I’m an introvert. I rest and rejuvenate by being alone and in solitude. I am often reluctant to leave my home. COVID lockdowns? No problem. Not driving anywhere to be in large groups of people and spending all day at home reorganizing various rooms and cupboards? Manna from heaven.

What’s your favourite distraction?

With the transition to remote work during the pandemic, our family took a major leap and followed a lifelong dream. We sold our lovely city house and moved into a fixer-upper farm in the country. Our lifestyle has completely changed. We grow our own food and raise animals. If I get a lunch break, and am working remotely, I take the opportunity to walk down to the barnyard to collect eggs and hang out with the goats, ducks and chickens. If I’m not with the animals then I’m in the garden pulling weeds.

If you were enrolling in one course, program or degree right now, what would it be?

Depending on the day, I would probably apply to the Faculty of Agricultural, Life and Environmental Sciences or Fine Arts. I have an interest in sustainable agriculture and I follow a number of women in agriculture and farming on social media platforms. There is so much to learn. I also love art. I could spend hours in an art gallery. I am not good at art personally (I’m mediocre at best), but I like to paint and draw and I try to be creative.

What’s a weird pet peeve you have?

I can’t stand other people in movie theaters. I like going to the movies, but I would prefer that the theater be completely empty. Fidgety loud talkers seek me out specifically to sit near. Like cats who like non-cat people. Just another good reason to stay home, honestly.

You can invite anyone — alive or dead, real or fictional — to dinner. Who would it be?

I like funny people. I would invite the very much alive Ryan Reynolds, Kristen Wiig or Tina Fey.

If you could see any live performance tomorrow, what would it be?

Probably one of my favourite bands from a time when I couldn’t afford to see concerts, like Portishead, De La Soul or the Beastie Boys.

What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?

You don’t have to do everything that other people want you to do. Stop saying yes to things you don’t like. Also don’t go on that cruise when you’re 46. You will regret it.

What’s one thing you can’t live without?

Plants and flowers. I wish I had a larger house, if only to have more indoor plants.

What three words describe your U of A experience?

Enriching, formative, relationships.

Shirley Schipper, Vice Dean, Education, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry.

About Shirley

Shirley Schipper is Vice Dean, Education for the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. She is also a professor with the Department of Family Medicine, and a practicing physician. She completed her undergraduate degree, medical degree and family medicine residency program all at the University of Alberta.

Shirley is a previous board member and past President of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC). She has worked with both the CFPC and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in the areas of learner assessment, competency based medical education, certification and accreditation. Her favourite parts of medicine are teaching students and residents, and caring for patients in the community.