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SRPC's 2021 Award Recipients

The SRPC feels it is important to provide recognition to persons or organizations that have made a significant contribution to rural medicine in Canada. A list of past recipients and details on how you could qualify or put forth a nomination for next year can be found on our Awards Page.
(Excerpts from nomination letters)

Dr. Dennis Atoe

Wallaceburg, ON

Dr. Janet Fisher

Rossland, BC

Dr. Katie Forfar

Pembroke, ON

Dr. Hugh Perrin

Mount Forest, ON

Dr. Stephen Viherjoki

Dryden, ON

Dr. Rob Warren

Sundre, AB

Dr. Vesta Warren

Sundre, AB

Dr. Peter Boronowski

Powell River, BC

Dr. Carolyn Brown

Bancroft, ON

Dr. Karen Forgie

Halfmoon Bay, BC

Dr. Donald Gelhorn

Hudson Bay, SK

Dr. Catherine Gudmundson

Ste Rose Du Lac, MB

Dr. Terrence Miller

Lillooet, BC

Dr. Peter Barnes

Botwood, NL

Dr. Peter Boronowski

Powell River, BC

Dr. Carolyn Brown

Bancroft, ON

Dr. Donald Gelhorn

Hudson Bay, SK

Dr. Joshua Greggain

Hope, BC

Dr. Scott Kish

Dauphin, MB

Dr. Terrence Miller

Lillooet, BC

Dr. Courtney Rennie

Revelstoke, BC

Dr. Modar Safar

Alliston, ON

Dr. Erich Van der Linde

Lake Newell Resort, AB

Dr. Heather Abramenko

Almonte, ON

Dr. David Beach

Picton, ON

Dr. Peter W Boronowski

Powell River, BC

Dr. Christopher F. Cressey

Palmerston, ON

Dr. Rod Dickey

100 Mile House, BC

Dr. Donald Gelhorn

Hudson Bay, SK

Dr. Beverley Karras

Saskatoon, SK

Dr. Hugh Perrin

Mount Forest, ON

Dr. C. Ruth Wilson

Yellowknife, NT

Dr. Ruth Wilson has offered tireless leadership at every level of the health care system, including internationally, and has done so for many years with informed, insightful, and strong advocacy for rural Canadians.

Dr. Elliot Halparin, a past president of both the OCFP and the OMA reflected on her role in this way:
"The success of primary care renewal and its beneficial effect on recruitment and retention in rural Ontario owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. Ruth Wilson for her dedication, hard work, leadership skills and patience in the face of degrees of skepticism. As an ally, mentor and supporter of physicians Dr. Wilson's leadership in the development of and presentation to physicians of practice options maximized the success of the programs."

Dr. Wilson has provided leadership on several committees. She has served on the CFPC board as president for a year. She also served as the president of the North American region for WONCA. she co-chaired the "Advancing Rural Family Medicine Committee" (ARFMC) and currently co-chairs the national Rural Road Map Implementation Committee. 

Ivy Oandasan has worked closely on that work and offered the following:
Since 2014, Dr. Ruth Wilson has provided exemplary leadership to advance rural recruitment and retention of physicians in Canada and support improving the provision of care close to home for those living in rural and remote communities. As the co-chair for the Advancing Rural Family Medicine Committee and subsequently the Rural Road Map Implementation Committee, she co-led the development and implementation of the Rural Road Map for Action advocating for equitable access to care, mobilizing governments, researchers, medical education and physician organizations to prioritize rural issues.

Dr. Orser describes her work in this way:
"I have learned that her advocacy work is driven by the goals of achieving fairness and ensuring equity and access to healthcare for all Canadians…. She has the uncanny ability to identify key underlying problems and correctable factors. She then uses a solution-focused approach to move forward to achieve impactful change. She is tenacious, powerful and committed. She is also a role model for many women and men, including myself."

As an outstanding leader in medicine overall, she has provided leadership in practical medical care in medical organizations, in education, and in the political sphere, both intellectually and by her personal example, for those of us in rural medicine. She has walked the walk of rural medical leadership and practice. Dr. Wilson was made a Member of the Order of Canada in 2015 and now richly deserves recognition for her leadership from her rural colleagues.

Ms. Anchaleena Mandal

Baker Lake, NU

She is involved with the national rural or remote health group as a member of the SRPC’s Student Committee but as one of 3 co-founders of the RISE initiative, where she did significant promotion of a rural and remote health initiative on a national level. She then took on the role of Volunteer Communication and Matching Lead.

Inuit elders in the remote arctic community of Iqaluit, NU, where she grew up, always taught her that leaders are driven by pijitsirniq, meaning “serving and providing for family and/or community” in Inuktitut. She is not Indigenous, but this Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit principle is what motivates all her leadership endeavours and continues to fuel her pursuit of rural medicine as a career to serve my community members who suffer from an acute shortage of physician services.

She had continued to keep herself involved in local and national rural health groups. She joined the NORM Committee of OMSA to promote rural medicine opportunities and resources for medical students through projects like Rural Doc Spotlight, NORM in the News (featuring rural health articles), hosting mentorship opportunities, publishing a RMIG manual and more. Likewise, as part of the SRPC Student Committee, she helped to develop the annual Rural Residency Catalogue for medical students considering rural practice and co-founded RISE, a national phone-support COVID-19 initiative of the SRPC that partners medical students with isolated individuals in rural Canada to provide companionship during the pandemic.

She is also heavily involved in Indigenous health advocacy. At her university, she is a member of the IHEWG with the ambition to indigenize our curriculum, aside from currently leading the creation of a new Indigenous Health AEP to expand learning beyond the curriculum. As part of Queen’s IHSC  she has hosted workshops about land acknowledgements, Indigenous clinical skills, etc. to foster cultural competency skills at my medical school. Since 2018, as the Northern Ambassador of the Queen’s HHRC  committee, She introduced the attendance of two Inuit post-secondary students. This year, she even organized their first panel of Inuit speakers about Nunavut healthcare to empower their voices on our national platform! Moreover, after the resignation of two Indigenous medical students secondary to concerns around systemic and individual racism within the CFMS she is presently involved with the working group that is dedicated to decolonizing the CFMS.

Regarding research, part of NORM, she is collaborating in a project that evaluates the frequency of provision of healthcare services in French within Northern Ontario, with the goal to design a Francophone Navigator program in Sudbury. She is also developing a research project to understand the mental health of rural physicians in Ontario during the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier this year, she presented a journal club on “Health care experiences of Indigenous people living with type 2 diabetes in Canada” by Jacklin et al. to promote culturally safe healthcare at her medical school.

 Ms. Avery Palmer

Ottawa, ON

As a student, Avery is clearly motivated and diligent, balancing her academic work, clinical rotations, extra-curricular activities and personal time. Hailing from a rural community in BC, she is particularly interested in rural medicine.

As a Métis person, she believes Indigenous health is very relevant to rural practice. She helps to teach fellow students about Indigenous cultures, health and social issues and encouraging them to help this vulnerable population. She will be doing rural electives in Surgery and Family Medicine this year, which also demonstrates her avid interest in rural medicine. Avery has been participating at the national level as Co-chair of the SRPC Student Committee, recruiting and liaising with other medical students from across Canada. One initiative that they have started is the creation of a rural mentorship program.

Avery is helping to organize a rural mentorship project at the University of Ottawa. Her peers appreciate her motivation and passion, and they look to her as a resource person in rural medicine.  As an  Indigenous physician with rural interests, she will definitely contribute to advancing these important fields of medicine.

Dr. Wilson Lam

Ottawa, ON

Dr. Lam is currently doing his Emergency Medicine Fellowship in Ottawa but has demonstrated a deep commitment to rural medical work and rural medical education. Dr. Wilson, a graduate of Queen’s University Family Medicine program, has chosen to spend large chunks of his residency training in one of our rural sites in Picton, ON. Dr. Lam was in Picton when COVID hit Canada. Realizing the importance and the dangers of COVID, he quickly liaised with Dr. Josh Colby, Picton hospital’s EM lead to organize and deliver several in-situ simulation sessions. They developed a workable sequence of logistical steps to perform safe, protected intubations within the Picton hospital and detect latent safety threats due to equipment, personnel, and anticipated patient physiology. To disseminate his work with the Picton hospital community, he made three high-quality educational videos that became the template for how Picton hospital dealt with potential COVID patients in respiratory distress. These videos were so well made that they garnered 1433 views from outside the Picton hospital.

Dr. Lam was asked by Dr. Tromp to join a new initiative: Canadian Medical Association has given a grant to the SRPC to develop a national curriculum for delivering and supporting simulation training to rural sites remotely. Dr. Lam enthusiastically joined and became an integral part of this educational effort. Aside from generally being a pleasant, energetic and forward-thinking member of the team, Dr. Lam spearheaded the educational component of the initiative. He made a video to inform and orient the participating rural communities. He also made four additional educational videos and five spot-the-errors simulated intubation videos as part of our best-practices remote learning educational strategy. He also made Google Classroom packages for each community and developed our post-simulation participant surveys.

The remote simulation program has benefited greatly from these efforts and has proven quite a success- with remote sessions being delivered to 13 different remote communities.

Dr. Jaclyn Wallace

Red Deer, ON

Dr. Wallace is a fierce advocate for rural medicine.  This year she has been heavily involved in preparing for "virtual CaRMS", leading the CaRMS task force and making certain that our rural programs are promoted and featured prominently in the University of Alberta's CaRMS promotional material and virtual Town Halls.  She currently advocates for Rural family Medicine and rural patients through writing letters to our local MLA about inequities seen in rural health.

She did several electives in rural medicine as a medical student at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine in North Bay and Cochran. Also, while at NOSM Jaclyn was part of Raz (Reach Access Zhibbi), which responds to the diverse needs of the vulnerable population in Sudbury. She was part of curriculum meetings for NOSM's programs to ensure rural teaching is equivalent to our colleagues in central centers. This advocacy was essential to keep remote indigenous communities electives in the midst of changing budgets and changing Deans.

Dr. Caroline Shooner

Queen Charlotte BC

Dr. Shooner has worked in our community of Queen Charlotte, Haida Gwaii, for the past 20 years. Haida Gwaii is a remote archipelago of islands off BC’s northwest coast, home to the Haida First Nations and considered not just rural but truly remote. She is a beloved member of our medical staff, and is known for her competence, wisdom, calmness and kindness. he is our lead with continuing medical education for the doctors, has secured annual funding to pay for lunches, organizes speakers and scheduling, and ensures all our education is accredited for CPD hours. On top of that, she organizes and manages a website that we can all use for archiving learning materials. She leads most of our educational simulations and has developed a series of checklists and “cheat sheets” to be used in a critical event. Throughout COVID, she led the development of many of our patient workflows and PPE training, not to mention our simulations. Clinically, she is careful, thorough and fastidious. She is adored by her patients and as well as all the staff working at our facility. To top it off, she is the lead for our islands’ health care website and blog, which is a trusted resource for how health care works on Haida Gwaii, who works here and what services are available.  Singlehandedly, she created, maintains and pays for this site.

She is also a dear friend who goes far beyond the usual duties of a family physician. This is what sets her apart and makes her deserving of a Community Impact Award. Not only a talented clinician, but she is also a gifted artist with the visual arts, narrative medicine and musically. For many years, she has organized a monthly “Coffeehouse” for the community’s amateur musicians to come together and perform. These are packed events and much loved.

Finally, she is a deep thinker who cares deeply for the human side of medicine. She reads and shares poetry with her patients. She has a Master’s Degree from Oxford in Narrative Medicine, which uses a story to humanize the experience of illness. She has run several community Narrative Medicine courses where she helps participants work through trauma and illness using language and reflection. She is truly an exemplar of one intimate with both the art and science of medicine.

Ms. Melissa McNeil

La Ronge, SK

A social worker by background, Melissa has served as the coordinator of the La Ronge Opioid Agonist Therapy (OAT) program since 2014. The challenges of providing OAT in a remote northern community are myriad, but through her amazing interpersonal skills and sheer determination and vision, Melissa has managed to create a program that serves the needs of many of the highest risk patients in our healthcare system. Her unprecedented availability and empathy for the patients she cares for, along with a genuine passion for her work, is truly inspiring.

Other examples of the excellent work Melissa has done to ensure that patients in our program receive the highest quality care possible include:

-Successfully establishing nurse-led OAT dispensing in the communities of Southend, SK (280 km north of La Ronge and 680 km from Saskatoon) and Stanley Mission, SK in partnership with our community-based pharmacists and Band Health directors.

-Successfully petitioning for a travel van to transport patients from Sucker River (30 km north of La Ronge) into town for their regular medications, avoiding the need to hitchhike daily
-Single-handedly ensuring that none of our patients went without their medications during a community-wide wildfire evacuation in 2015, while “creatively” ensuring that patients in Stanley Mission who were cut off from regular pharmacy supplies had their methadone literally “shipped” to them via a trapper’s boat across Lac La Ronge
-Aiding in the coordination and development of our local Hepatitis C treatment program that has now successfully cured over 130 patients of Northern Saskatchewan.

During her tenure, Melissa has grown the program from a cap of 40 patients and 2 physicians to well over 120 patients and 5 OAT prescribers and reduced the wait time for OAT in our communities to 1-3 days.  New prescribers have been easy to recruit, partially encouraged by the strong support of Melissa in her coordinator role. She has been patient, positive, and nothing short of awesome in guiding them through the early stages of their OAT careers.  Her empathetic nature and willingness to truly listen and offer practical solutions to problems, along with her unflinching dedication to the patients she cares for, have made her an extremely important asset to those in need in our community.

Dr. Barbara Zelek

Marathon, ON

Dr. Zelek demonstrates leadership by example, works extremely hard to recognize her rural colleagues and nurtures a passion for wellness in her own practice and in the mentorship of many young physicians. Barb is a part of a wonderful community of rural physicians in Marathon, Ontario. As a part of this group, Barb works collegially and collaboratively in a practice that extols the virtue of community service, social accountability and providing great care to the community. Dr. Zelek is able to expand these principles to other rural communities via her mentorship and leadership in the capacity Clinical Sciences Division Head.

Dr. Margo Wilson

St. John's, NL

The flame for rural medicine was ignited during her participation in the NorFam program. After completing her third year in emergency medicine training at Memorial University and working in an urban ED for a year, unlike most of her EM trained colleagues, she returned to her beloved Labrador where she practiced for six years. During her time there, Dr. Gabe Woollam says, “Margo was a tremendous asset during her time in Goose Bay. She was an excellent teacher in the ER, clinic and coast.”
Her presence carried a lasting impact. She developed a fracture clinic in Goose Bay that is still successfully run by family doctors.
As Dr. Woollam observes, “despite moving to town, Margo has continued to be a friend to rural.”

Dr. Wilson knows first hand what it is like to care for a sick patient in a rural setting with limited resources, the isolation rural physicians feel and their struggle to access high-quality CME. She has therefore made it her mission to bridge this gap. She has locumed in rural communities all over NL sharing her expertise and bringing CME with her. She has given numerous lectures on topics of interest to rural practitioners, including toxicology, PoCUS, critical care simulation and communicating with specialists at multiple forums, including CHES (UBC), the Research Exchange Group on Rural Health and the Rural Medicine Interest Group at MUN. She has also developed a curriculum for the NLMA’s annual Rural Emergency Medicine Refresher course. Her academic enterprises also reflect her passion for improving health care in rural communities.

She is currently researching aeromedical evacuation in Labrador and developing trauma simulation for rural physicians and residents, which she has already run in Burin, Twillingate and Goose Bay. Dr. Margo Wilson is known in many rural corners of our province as a strong ally.

Dr. Roy Kirkpatrick

Huntsville, ON

Since the inception of the school, he has been an active faculty member at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine. He has been very active with educating learners from medical students to residents in all specialties, including general surgery and family medicine. In addition, he is recognized as an exceptional and rational consultant to his family medicine colleagues. Dr.Kirkpatrick is incredibly kind and patient, and this comes across in all his encounters.

Dr. Kirkpatrick is a strong advocate for medical students and residents. He demonstrates this through his leadership positions at NOSM, including interim General Surgery program director, General Surgery site director, and currently as the Section Chair for the Section of Surgery. He has also been the lead of the Local Education Group in his community.  Additionally, Dr. Kirkpatrick has been involved with the Resident Wellness Committee at NOSM.

He has been elected to the Council of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in 2019 and has also been appointed the Regional Advisory Committee Chair for Ontario and Nunavut for the RCPSC.

He has done some wonderful volunteer work over the years with organizations like Doctors Without Borders, CUSO, and the Canadian/Norwegian Red Cross Emergency Reserve Unit. He has volunteered internationally, as well as offering locum services in Baffin Island and Moose Factory. He has also provided locum services in several communities in northern Ontario.

Dr. Kirkpatrick is the ultimate role model for our learners, reflecting what a true rural specialist can accomplish through clinical work, advocacy, and teaching. We feel Dr. Kirkpatrick embodies what a dedicated and passionate rural specialist is.

Congratulations to NOSM with 78% Rural FM Matched in 2020

Congratulations to Memorial University of Newfoundland who have 50% of their family medicine grads practicing rural 10 years after graduation.

Ms. Sara Wang

Winnipeg, MB

Dr. Andrew James O'Dea

St. John's, NL

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