Dr. Jessie Breton

Top 40 Under 40 2014

Photography Curtis Trent

Age: 30

Job Title: Fifth-year Resident in Emergency Medicine, Alberta Health Services

Why She’s Top 40: She’s fighting for health equity for refugees, while also working to prevent sexual violence.

Guilty Pleasure: “Watching Carl Sagan’s Cosmos series. I force people to watch it with me again and again.”

Jessie Breton spends her time treating people who have been hurt in accidents, but that hasn’t made her risk-adverse. She skateboards to her shifts as a fifth-year resident in Emergency Medicine at the University of Alberta Hospital. Taught by her brothers, both skateboarders (one is professional longboarder Nick Breton), Breton uses a longboard as transportation and as a way to preach helmet safety to her young patients.

Now in her final year of residency, Breton focuses not only on preventive safety measures but also on access to health care. In the future, she would like to do a mix of emergency-room medicine and political work to help create policies that will ensure that society’s more vulnerable groups, such as single mothers and aboriginals, have the same access to health care as the rest of the population.

Breton has made inroads in helping Alberta’s vulnerable populations; she co-founded the Alberta Refugee Care Coalition with several other public-health students. She became interested in refugee health in June 2012, around the time that the federal government made cuts to health programs for refugees. That same year, 1,696 people in Edmonton were refugee claimants. The changes to funding led to Breton co-authoring a policy briefing about health care for refugees.

At the moment, Breton creates change through ConsentEd, an organization that promotes awareness and education through videos, discussions and its website about preventing sexual violence. Founded in 2011, it received the 2012 John Humphrey Human Rights Award for new/emerging organization in Edmonton.

A self-proclaimed science nerd, Breton uses astronomy to find calm amongst the chaos she sees in the ER. “The reality is that I see people often on the worst day of their life. My place to reconnect and recharge is in the beauty … of this world, the stars and the sky.”

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