Dr. Yolanda Kirkham is an assistant professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of Toronto. After her Masters’s and medical degrees at the University of British Columbia, she moved to Toronto to pursue her OBGYN career path. She cares for women through all of life’s transitions. She delivers babies and performs minimally invasive surgery at St Joseph’s Health Centre Toronto and Women’s College Hospital. She believes in arming and supporting patients with accurate health information to make smart, individualized treatment decisions. Dr. Kirkham enjoys and devotes time to patient education and outreach through online, print, and TV media avenues. She has contributed expert content and articles to Best Health Magazine, Today’s Parent, Chatelaine, Flare, Fashion Magazine, Globe & Mail, Global News, The Kit, The Loop, and Women’s Post. She can be seen discussing menstruation, birth, and female anatomy on Dr. Jen Gunter’s streaming docuseries, Jensplaining, on CBC GEM. When she’s not juggling work life with mom’s life, she is at her piano and dabbles in stand-up comedy.
My first job ever was… cruise line check-in agent. Destination: Alaska.
I decided to become a Physician because… the human body is fascinating and the role allows me to marry my love for helping people with the continuity of care and interaction in women’s health.
I chose to specialize in my area because… obstetrics and gynecology affords me the opportunity to care for girls, women, and people with uteri throughout their lifetime. I can see them through childhood skin conditions, anatomy variations, puberty, pregnancy, birth, fertility and sexuality struggles, and menopause. When patients tell me they feel validated and have relief from their disabling pain or heavy menstrual bleeding, I feel personally rewarded and privileged to be part of their care. The surprising physical attraction I felt toward performing surgery also drove me into this specialty.
My proudest accomplishment is… stepping out from what’s expected of me as a woman of colour. My mother raised me right and gave me the confidence to keep going in whichever directions I chose.
My boldest move to date was…having a baby.
My best advice to women dealing with health-related stigmas at work is… to find someone who understands and can help to educate others about your condition if you are ready to share. Sharing your experiences in a safe place allows others to do the same. Awareness builds compassion.
“Perseverance pays off.”
My best advice from a mentor was…perseverance pays off.
The best thing about my job is… connecting with patients, hearing their stories, and earning their trust so I can help them medically or surgically. It’s a great day whenever I bring new lives into the world, help diagnose a young woman with endometriosis, counsel a family through miscarriage, save a twisted ovary in surgery.
The most challenging thing about my job is… helping patients wade through the misinformation on the internet and social media to arrive at the many available options for treatment that have scientific and clinical evidence.
If you googled me, you still wouldn’t know… that my perfect day(dream) would start off with sipping a cup of tea and the style or entertainment section of the newspaper while listening to Queen.
I stay inspired by… surrounding myself by those who love and support me. I try to find inspiration in other people’s achievements. I try to give myself time to think about how to spice up my life when I get restless with every day.
The future excites me because… it is what I want to make of it.