Chantal Guimont is the kind of doctor we all dream of having. She’s a good listener, but she’s also good at explaining complex medical terms in vocabulary the average Canadian can understand. That’s on purpose. “I’m well aware that I learned a new language at medical school,” she explains. “But I want to enlighten my patients rather than confuse them.”
That concern for clarity – and her ability to connect with patients – is proving to be a hit with viewers of her new show Médecin sans rendez-vous (doctor without appointment), which debuted on Télé-Québec last September. The setting and tone are intimate – Guimont removes her stethoscope and steps into the homes of people with health questions, whether about tinnitus, sleeping problems or antibiotics.
The family doctor, who is also a researcher, professor, health columnist and an Investors Group client, wanted to depart from the rigid talk-show formula of Les docteurs (the Quebec version of the CBS program The Doctors), which she co-hosted for three years on Radio-Canada. She wants to help people better understand their own problems, which she feels can only be done by responding to people’s most pressing questions. “Answering questions has always been essential to me,” says Guimont. “There is not enough health information out there for the population, and I’m doing my best to help fill that gap.”
“Nothing could have prepared me for the special bond I share with my patients.”
One cause that the mother of three is trying to promote is exercise among women. She co-founded Les Roses in 2012, a cycling and running challenge for 250 female participants who currently range in age from 16 to 67. “Women tend to involve the whole family in their physical activity,” she says. It takes nine months to prepare for the race, but participants aren’t simply training the entire time – they’re also expected to raise money for medical science. So far the organization has raised more than $300,000 in grants for cancer and mental-illness researchers.
Despite her obvious passion for her profession, Guimont never intended to become a doctor in the first place. She first completed a master’s degree in statistics, but then fell in love with medicine while pursuing a PhD in epidemiology. And thankfully she did. It’s been a rewarding job for her and her patients. “I keep telling my teenage children to take their time to find a job they really love,” she says. “Nothing could have prepared me for the special bond I share with my patients.”