Our People in Profile: Hospitalist Dr. Christina Morgan passionate about the pace, people and atmosphere at Dartmouth General

Dr. Christina Morgan is a hospitalist at Dartmouth General Hospital.
Dr. Christina Morgan is a hospitalist at Dartmouth General Hospital (Kristen Lipscombe/NSHA).

Whether she’s hiking or sea kayaking at her cottage in Liverpool, or jumping from emergency department shifts at Queens General Hospital to inpatient care at Dartmouth General Hospital, variety is the spice of life for Dr. Christina Morgan.

Since finishing her family medicine training at Dalhousie University’s clinic on Mumford Road in Halifax six years ago, Dr. Morgan has “worked all over the province,” while trying to find the right fit for her skills, interests and education, which also includes completing medical school at Western University in London, Ont.

“Name a spot and I’ve worked there in different capacities,” she said with a smile this week, while sipping tea in the cafeteria at Dartmouth General Hospital, where she works her main gig as a hospitalist.

“I’ve worked in obstetrics, I’ve worked in emergency, I’ve worked in hospital, I’ve worked in clinic,” said Dr. Morgan, who also covers shifts for a family doctor in Liverpool nearing retirement.

“I work my schedule there around what I’m doing here, so generally when I go down there, I will do one or two emergency shifts, interspersed with clinic, and I also look after the inpatients.”

Dr. Morgan just moved into a newly built house with her husband and two step-sons, a mere three minute-drive away from Dartmouth General Hospital.

Her long-term goal is to continue work at the neighbouring hospital, where she enjoys the pace and the people, while perhaps sharing “a family practice with some of the other hospitalists.”

“I really like the atmosphere of being in the hospital,” she said. “We have a very collegial group here. The nurses, the care workers; everybody here gets along very well – it’s a true community hospital.”

Dr. Morgan also emphasizes the increasingly important role that hospitalists are playing in the lives of their patients, particularly in community hospitals such as Dartmouth General.

“Family physicians have become so busy, so over run in the clinics, that it’s becoming harder and harder for a lot of them to look after their inpatients in the hospital,” she said, “particularly as they become more complex and the baby boomers are aging and the complexity of their medical history is increasing.”

“So I think we serve an important function in that we help offload them and provide continuing care for patients while they’re in hospital. We generally help decrease the length of stay, which I think is important, too.”

That’s why she’s thrilled to see the role she and her colleagues play in the medical system now being recognized with a National Hospitalist Day, introduced for the first time this year. It’s scheduled to happen on the first Thursday of March.

“I’m very glad that they’re putting on this hospitalist awareness day because it’s providing people with a sense of what we do,” Dr. Morgan said. “It is something that a lot of people don’t really know much about.”

Hospitalists at Dartmouth General Hospital also “see a lot of interesting cases,” she said, because patients are often admitted directly to hospitalists, as opposed to being transferred via internal medicine or a specialized service. “The majority of the medicine inpatients here are looked after by us.”

When she’s not helping patients with a wide range of medical conditions, or travelling back and forth from the south shore to the city for work, Dr. Morgan also enjoys going to concerts and travelling.

For a physician who likes to mix things up both on and off the job, being a hospitalist is “the best combination of being a family physician and an internist.”

“I think that being a hospitalist, and having that experience of looking after people in hospital, has really enhanced my skills in dealing with them once they come out of the hospital, with some of those chronic conditions,” she said.

“I generally enjoy all aspects of medicine, so that’s why I went into it.”

To learn more about what Dr. Morgan and her colleagues do, check out the Canadian Society of Hospital Medicine.

This week also features International Women’s Day, March 8, which you can learn more about by visiting federal government’s Status of Women website.