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Local surgeon reflects on his UNB experience as former two-time recipient of the Alumni Student Leadership Award

Author: UNB Alumni

Posted on Oct 26, 2021

Category: UNB Saint John , Inspiring Stories


Though no day is ever the same for Saint John orthopaedic surgeon Brendan Sheehan (BSc’05), each is driven by his passion for helping to restore a patient’s function back to doing the activities they love.

When he’s not at home caring for his two children, Brendan can either be found in his office reviewing referrals, and talking to his patients about their injuries, treatments and diagnoses, or in the operation room at St. Joseph’s Hospital where he may perform up to four to five operations a day.

“My sub-specialty is orthopaedic sports medicine,” Sheehan explains. “So focusing on arthroscopy and minimally invasive surgeries to do things like ACL reconstructions, and shoulder stabilizations for people who dislocate their shoulders or have rotator cuff tears.”

Sheehan treats a range of patients, including young athletes at various levels of sport from high school to university to professional leagues. He smiles when he adds that he also treats injuries for the “weekend warriors.”

“I love the ability to restore function to people. Particularly young athletes who get injured and have been removed from their ability to participate in the activities that they identify themselves with.”

“There’s huge psycho-social implications for them. Things like depression, anxiety, loss of identity, in addition to the physical disability they have. It’s amazing when you see someone that has had a debilitating injury and then a year or two later, they’re back playing the sport that they love.”

In addition to his day-to-day profession and his active medical research, Sheehan is also a member of the executive committee for both the Canadian Orthopaedic Association and the Arthroscopy Association of Canada. His leadership in the medical field comes as no surprise, given Sheehan was a long and engaged leader in the community during his time at UNB Saint John.

Throughout his academic studies in the faculty of science, Sheehan volunteered with the Students’ Representative Council, lead the Shinerama fundraising campaign, played as member of the Seawolves men’s volleyball team and travelled the world as a representative for the World University Service of Canada.

In addition to receiving the Arthur and Sandra Irving Primrose Scholarship in 2001, Sheehan also received the Alumni Student Leadership Award in both 2003 and 2004 for his remarkable involvement, and is still one of few to receive it twice.

As Sheehan reflects back on his time at UNB and on the 20th anniversary of the Alumni Student Leadership Award, he describes his experience as invaluable. He says the interactions and skills learned at UNB have prepared him to become a leader in his own field today.

“UNB Saint John taught me all sorts of lessons about leadership, how to become an engaged member of the community and how to interact with people. It taught me passion, empathy, and balance between athletics, academics and extracurricular activities. I can’t imagine I would have gotten that at any other school.”