2018 IW Winners

Aboriginal Leadership - Sudbury

Dr. Jennifer Jocko

Dr. Jennifer Jocko

Dr. Jennifer Jocko is on a mission to improve women’s health in Northern Ontario, focusing on Indigenous, rural, and Northern patients’ access to care.

Raised in Mattawa, Jocko is Algonquin from Pikwakanagan First Nation. She began her medical career as a registered nurse who “always wanted to do more.”

She worked as a nurse in North Bay and Mattawa for ten years. In that time, she married and became a mother of two. Her dream of “doing more” never faded, and with a lot of perseverance (and support from her husband, family, and close friends) Jocko made it through medical school at McMaster University and chose her specialization.

“When I delivered my first baby in medical school, I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life; to take care of women through the lifespan,” Jocko said. She started practicing obstetrics and gynecology in Sudbury in 2014.

Today, she meets patients in clinics, birthing rooms, and operating suites. She also works as an advocate for Indigenous, rural, and northern women’s health through leadership roles that she holds locally, nationally, and internationally.

Jocko is the Regional Cervical Screening and Colposcopy Lead for the North East Local Health Integration Network (NE LHIN) with Cancer Care Ontario. In January, the NE LHIN recognized Jocko with a Healthy Change Champion award for her commitment to women’s health and patientcentred care. She’s a consultant specialist at the Shkagamik-Kwe Health Centre in Sudbury (where she operates a half-day weekly clinic), is an associate professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, and sits on the Aboriginal Women’s Health Committee for the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada.

Jocko also joined the planning committee for the fifth International Indigenous Women’s Health Meeting, held in New Mexico by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

She says patients tell her they appreciate her knowledge and how she puts them at ease. Patient care is her first priority, so she travels from Sudbury to Little Current (on Manitoulin Island) every month to see patients at the Manitoulin Health Centre.

For her, making health care equitable and accessible is crucial.

“It’s part of my job,” she said. “It’s why I go to the Island. It’s better if I travel there rather than having 30 to 40 women travelling into Sudbury to see me.”

Her advocacy goes beyond the road trips.

“There are many times in health care when things aren’t right,” she said. “I try to be a voice because the system is not always equal. There is a time for me to be a voice for our women, and for our women’s children, who don’t have a voice. That’s a big part of it.”

This year, Jocko and her business partner, Dr. Karen Splinter, will open the first clinic in northeastern Ontario to offer fertility services including intrauterine insemination. Their NEO Women’s Health Network will operate as a “one-stop shop” for women’s health.

“The women I meet, the people I meet in my practice – we’re all on a journey – I’m still on a journey,” Jocko said, reflecting on her life changes as a fresh empty-nester. She’s beginning a new phase in her mission and still aims to “do more.”