(December 14, 2000, Gazette)
Leaders in womens
(L-R) Prof. Kay Matthews and
Dr. Sharon Buehler
Two members of Memorials community were recently honoured
with Leadership Awards for Womens Health in Atlantic Canada.
The awards were given to Dr. Sharon Buehler, Community Health,
and Prof. Kay Matthews, Nursing, by the Maritime Centre for Excellence
in Womens Health.
The two women are old friends with similar histories of service
to the community and the university. Both moved with their husbands
and young children to Newfoundland in 1967 and helped found the
Childrens Centre, a non-profit daycare centre formed as
a co-operative of parents who hired teachers trained in early
We met in the fall of 1967 at a university meeting,
said Dr. Buehler. As a midwife, Kay had taught the Lamaze
birth method and I had done it which, in the 1960s, was
unusual. Kay started Lamaze training here and has always been
one of the major advocates in the province for breastfeeding.
Both of us were at the founding meeting of the LaLeche League
An Oxford-trained midwife and nurse, Prof. Matthews worked at
the maternity unit of the Grace General Hospital from 1973 until
she became a full-time faculty member at the School of Nursing
in 1986. Her dedication to fostering maternity care that supports
womens wishes and health practices has been the focus of
her practice, teaching and research for the past three decades.
Her commitment to ensuring that women have choices in their childbearing
years has led to numerous awards and her advice has been sought
throughout the Atlantic region. In recent years, her work has
extended internationally to Ghana, Nigeria and Indonesia.
Sharon Buehlers career has also focused on improving womens
health. She began work in the 1970s at the new medical school
as a research assistant in immunology and worked toward a PhD
in epidemiology. She was consultant epidemiologist with the Newfoundland
Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation and director of the
Provincial Cancer Registry. In the mid-1980s she was appointed
to faculty in the Division of Community Health, Faculty of Medicine.
Dr. Buehlers work in cancer epidemiology has included research
into the prevention and management of womens cancers. She
has served as a volunteer board member with the Canadian Cancer
Society at the national and provincial level. She is particularly
proud of her role as a founding member of the management committee
of the Canadian Breast Cancer Research Initiative, and her participation
and involvement in founding the Womens Health Network,
a provincial non-profit organization that works to improve womens
health through networking and conducting research on womens
Through her work in cancer education and directing the Newfoundland
site of the Canadian Study of Health and Aging, Dr. Buehler has
become a strong advocate for the use of plain language in communicating
research to laypersons.
Although pleased with the tribute to their own work represented
by the leadership awards, both Prof. Matthews and Dr. Buehler
are gratified that their work is being carried on by younger
women. Prof. Matthews is frequently sought by students for advice
on choosing maternal/child health as a career focus, and she
was recently asked by the former minister of health to serve
on the Midwifery Implementation Committee, charged with preparing
legislation and regulation around the legalization of the practice
of midwifery within the province. Dr. Buehler notes with satisfaction
that all of her graduate students have been involved in research
work on issues predominantly affecting women.