Where it all began…

We’re doctors who have been best friends for over two decades.

Our story stems from watching the women around us care for everyone in their world without a single pause. So many of our colleagues and friends couldn’t remember what they had for breakfast (was it the other half of that day-old granola bar in our cup holder?)—let alone what their dreams were. We saw the value in working in medicine and had moments of it we absolutely loved—but our tanks were running on E, our stress response was through the roof, and we had no idea where to go to gas up and get back our power.

We knew we wanted to offer women doctors the antidotes we’d been searching for ourselves. Hundreds of Post-it Notes, multiple course drafts and many brainstorm sessions later—Understory was born as a licensed, accredited and volunteer-run non-profit.

We’ve since co-designed eight different health-and-wellness courses for over 2,000 women doctors in Canada —serving up countless transformations and over 20,000 CME credits. Today, nothing sustains us quite like seeing overworked women replace the self-sacrifice the system has ingrained in us with a more empowered, inspired lived experience (oh and we also love coffee—that sustains us, too).

Ours aren’t your typical self-care courses—we don’t focus on optimization or pretend to have “the only!” solution. But what we do have is a lifetime of experience as women doctors, a vibrant community of physicians experiencing the same discontent you are—and transformative health and wellness courses designed to take you from numb, overwhelmed or uninspired to refreshed and relieved.

Our online courses are designed specifically with the needs, challenges and schedules of women doctors in mind. We’ve replaced time-consuming coaching with deeply distilled nuggets of wisdom available in flexible formats—and bandaids for burnout with incredibly impactful programming.

We’re here to help you reclaim your power

…minus empty promises, falsehoods and fluff

Dr. Kelly Anderson

Family Physician & Understory Co-Founder | #boymom

Dr. Meghan Daly

From my time in medical school to my seven years in the emergency department, while I've always absolutely loved this line of work, I've also found myself struggling with the level of self-sacrifice it requires. As someone who is deeply creative at heart (fiction writing is my passion!), there are certain things I need to nurture my creative zeal: rest, sleep and the time and space to create. As I gave more to my career and less to those basic needs, I was under the impression that how I interfaced with medicine was completely out of my control (even though—spoiler alert!—it wasn’t). I knew it was time to reorganize my life and find myself again—and it was this knowing that ultimately led Meg and I to create Understory.

Today, I work as an assistant professor at University of Toronto and run an HIV primary care practice at St. Michael’s Hospital—but most of my fuel comes from two roles that provide me extra fuel for my other passion: my volunteer role as Understory’s co-founder. I love working with our faculty to distill their knowledge into bite-sized, highly concentrated wisdom women doctors can easily metabolize.

When I’m not brainstorming ways to make our content revelatory—I’m likely hiding away in my writing cabin, on one of my three daily phone conversations with Meg or doing a peloton run (current favourite: Matt Wilpers).

Emergency Physician & Understory Co-Founder | #girlmom

While I feel an enormous privilege and responsibility as an emergency room physician, I’ve always been deeply intent on finding my soul-work outside of the ER (which isn’t exactly a line of questioning medicine encourages, if you know what I mean). About six months into the pandemic, Kelly and I were just so saddened by the distress and physician burnout we were seeing in both ourselves and countless other women doctors , and we knew it was time to do something.

As someone who has always had an innate knack for community building, I wanted to create a safe space where women physicians could lay down their armour and learn to give back to themselves despite a society and system that have trained us to do anything but. This safe space became Understory—and I absolutely love that I am just as much a learner as anyone else here, seeking lasting wellness and self-discovery.

When I’m not jamming with Kelly about what courses should come next or sourcing sustainable, local goodies for our care packages—you’ll find me hanging at the park with my three girls, completely unplugged on an annual canoe trip or making syrup in my backyard (recent record: 60 litres of syrup in Spring of 2022).

What in the world does “Understory” mean?

The understory is the shade-tolerant layer of the forest that lives underneath the main canopy. It doesn’t see much light—but it’s critical to the health of the entire ecosystem. We’re here to help you shine a light on your understory.

Because when the shaded areas inside yourself are seen, heard and nourished—you can stop operating on autopilot and finally start feeling like yourself again.

to help women doctors better listen to, care for and remember themselves.

Our Mission

Whether it’s setting boundaries, having tough conversations or making much-needed changes, this community exists to help you tune into what it is you need. Here, we believe you have the innate power and wisdom to create what you want. You need an inclusive, supportive place that encourages you to tap into it. Luckily, you’ve just found just the place (and we’re so glad you did).

Awarded The Atelier Collective’s 2021 entrepreneurship award for our programming

Over 800 hours spent running (and brainstorming) in the forest together since our launch

20,000 CME credits issued to over 2,000 women doctors

Health and wellness experts? Sure. Teachers who will forever change the way you think about online courses? That's more like it.

From physicians and holistic health experts to psychotherapists, certified sleep coaches and critically acclaimed authors, we built our faculty with an eye on excellence. Each of our teachers offers the kind of insight that will help you better care for and fuel yourself—packaged in easy-to-digest formats designed to suit your busy schedule.

Volunteer-run, accredited and registered non-profit organization offering transformative online courses and CME credits to busy women doctors in Canada.