Hayley Wickenheiser has spent the past two decades
blazing a trail in the sport of hockey.
a five-time olympic medallist who has been in
the spotlight since she made her world championship
debut for Canada at the age of 15, she has become the
face of the women’s game. dominant on and influential
off the ice, the Calgary resident made history in 2003
when she became the first woman to score a goal in a
men’s professional hockey league.
at 36, Wickenheiser is still chasing the same dreams
she had as a young child growing up in Shaunavon,
Sask. But while her hopes of representing Canada at a
sixth and possibly final olympics in 2018 are well known
to Canadian hockey fans, Wickenheiser’s lifelong goal
to become a doctor is not.
“Since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted to play hockey
and be in the medical field,” says Wickenheiser, who is
currently taking a master’s degree in medical science at
the university of Calgary. “It’s similar to hockey—there’s
a team environment, lots of action and pressure and it’s
never the same twice.”
although she’s currently recovering from foot
surgery, Wickenheiser has stayed remarkably healthy
throughout her long and distinguished hockey career.
a veteran of 12 world championships, her longevity has
been fuelled by a strong commitment to her personal
health and fitness regimen. She works with a team of
doctors, surgeons and other health professionals, which
includes her family doctor.
“I’ve had a regular family doctor for the last five or
six years,” says Wickenheiser, who also represented
Canada at the Summer olympics in softball in 2000.
“the main reasons I use my family doctor right now are
prevention and the functional work I do. For general
health checkups, having a family doctor makes you
more inclined to follow up and get on top of your
own regular health than if you don’t feel connected to
Research shows people who regularly visit a family
doctor are healthier and live longer. In alberta, most
family physicians are members of primary Care
networks (pCns). First established in 2003, pCns
improve access to family doctors and strengthen the
professional health services offered at clinics.
the Calgary area has seven pCns, with about 1,300
doctors caring for 1.1 million people. each pCn designs
programs and services to meet the unique health needs
of the people they serve. pCn doctors often work
in partnership with teams of pharmacists, dietitians,
nurses and mental health consultants. pCns also
offer after-hours care as well as access to clinics and
Wickenheiser, whose doctor is a member of the
Calgary West Central pCn, likens the pCn model to the
holistic approach that has been adopted by many of
the world’s best sports teams and federations.
“I think it’s crucial to have a primary point of contact
and then a supporting cast of other professionals
or experts that you can reach out to if you need
something,” says Wickenheiser. “that’s basically how
we do everything in the sport or athlete world. In family
medicine that just makes total sense. It eliminates
duplication and ensures consistency and continuity and
gives people better care.”
Wickenheiser’s foot injury is one of the most serious
injuries she’s had as an athlete.
“I had a broken navicular so it’s basically foot
reconstruction. So far, so good,” says Wickenheiser,
who has played varsity hockey for the university of
Calgary dinos since 2010. “My goal is to be back
Wickenheiser has learned to balance demanding
training and competition schedules with her studies
and family life. although she’s taking nothing for
granted when it comes to pursuing a career in
medicine, she’s hoping some of the skills she picked up
on the ice will help her fulfil her dream of becoming dr.
“I’ve spent a bit of time shadowing [doctors]. It is a very
interesting and appealing career,” she says. “But first of
all I would just like to go to medical school. I don’t want
to get too far ahead of myself.
“In sport you learn a lot about time management and
preparation and discipline. I feel like I’m pretty prepared
to take on any challenges.”
“since i was a kid,
i’ve always wanted to
play hockey and be
in the medical field.”