2023 DFCM Award of Excellence Winners

Congratulations to all our 2023 Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) Program Award winners! At this year's virtual Awards & Celebration Event on Oct. 3, we will recognize and honour your contributions to your patients, communities, and our department.

These awards relate to the period June 2022 – June 2023.

Academic Family Physician of the Year

Dr. Karen Fleming | Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Dr. Karen Fleming has demonstrated a strong and sustained commitment to enhancing clinical practice, advocating for vulnerable populations, teaching at all levels including patients, and advancing scholarship throughout her career. She has been a champion of academic family medicine while simultaneously exemplifying all of the principles of family medicine, including coordinating efforts to reach out to vulnerable people during this pandemic. 

Excellence in Course/Program Development – Fully Affiliated

Dr. James Owen | Unity Health Toronto – St. Michael's Hospital
Dr. James Owen is a leader in every sense. He has actively helped to renew the Foundations Program, created the Complexity and Chronicity course and has served as theme lead for LGBTQ2S. He developed a panel discussion to address religious discrimination for students, and has recently worked with the clerkship team to develop a new course to help students transition from Foundations to Clerkship more easily. He consistently applies a scholarly approach to course development. 

Excellence in Course/Program Development – Community Site

Dr. Aisha Husain | Oak Valley Health – Uxbridge
Dr. Aisha Husain is a highly valued member of our department. She is not only an excellent clinician and leader, but has actively worked to engage with others to develop new and innovative curriculum for our DFCM learners.

Excellence in Creative Professional
Activity – Community Affiliated

Dr. Angela Marrocco | Toronto East Health Network – Michael Garron Hospital
Dr. Angela Marrocco has made significant contributions to the development of professional practice through leadership and role modeling. Her ability to focus not only on the granular level of her own practice and the patient directly in front of her, but the larger system and its needs are critical and the type of approach that must be encouraged. Her forward-thinking and transparency have allowed her to gain the utmost trust as a physician leader. 

Excellence in Creative Professional Activity – Fully Affiliated

Dr. Tali Bogler | Unity Health Toronto – St. Michael's Hospital
Dr. Tali Bogler is a champion for pregnant individuals, newborns and children. She is the co-founder of the @PandemicPregnancyGuide, a virtual platform established during the pandemic, engaging 42,000 followers with evidence-based information on women’s health and pediatrics. In 2021, she was recognized by the Toronto Star as a Vaccine Hero, by being a “Voice of Pregnant Patients” and continues her heroic work through innovation and advocacy, locally, provincially and nationally, to support the perinatal population.

Excellence in Development and Use of
Innovative Instructional Methods – HPE Community Affiliated

Ms. Jane Bowman, Ms. Tanya Perisic, and Ms. Kim Bradbury | Unity Health Toronto – St. Joseph's Health Centre
The Counselling Skills Course for the PGY2 residents at SJHC uses the following innovative instructional methods to deliver a high quality and exceptionally practical course: the program is delivered over Zoom, learning is unrestricted with free-flowing discussions, use of diagrams, videos, and articles, small group breakout rooms, and role-playing/simulation opportunities. “Jane, Tanya and Kim provided one of the best and most unique learning experiences thus far during my family medicine residency.”

Excellence in Development and Use of Innovative Instructional Methods – Fully Affiliated

Dr. Batya Grundland and the Virtual Care Competency Training Roadmap (ViCCTR) Curriculum Team (includes Drs. Risa Freeman, Mahan Kulasegaram, Maria Mylopoulos, Nikki Woods, and Karina Prucnal | Women's College Hospital
The ViCCTR (Virtual Care Competency Training Roadmap) curriculum was developed and rigorously evaluated to fill a gap in teaching clinical reasoning for medical learners pivoting to virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Grundland and her team developed 6 asynchronous modules which were delivered to residents, medical students and faculty, and the program was evaluating under a PSI foundation grant. The work has been disseminated nationally through presentations and a publication.

Excellence in Education Scholarship (Newly Engaged Clinician Educator Scholar)

Dr. Karina Prucnal | Trillium Health Partners – Credit Valley Hospital
Dr. Prucnal is a highly engaged and productive junior scholar in DFCM. Building on her training as a PGY3 in Enhanced Skills Education Scholarship, Dr. Prucnal has launched a series of scholarly inquiries that are contributing to several important elements of education in DFCM and in medical education  broadly. In both her education practice and scholarship, she embodies a collaborative ethos with a strong commitment to rigorous methods and approaches.

Excellence in Education Scholarship (Senior Clinician Educator Scholar)

Dr. Giovanna Sirianni | Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Dr. Sirianni’s wide ranging output in assessment, curriculum innovation, evaluation, and faculty development showcases the best of DFCM’s national and international impact in education scholarship. Her work addresses practical challenges facing family medicine by using theory and rigorous methods. Notably, she is leading the study of an innovative integrated 3-year residency program which will have relevance for future conversations on the nature of family medicine training. 

Excellence in Leadership (New) – Community Affiliated

Dr. Julian Manzone | Southlake Regional Health Centre
Dr. Julian Manzone is the newest Residency Program Site Director at Southlake Regional Health Centre, having recently earned this role very shortly after graduating from the University of Toronto Family Medicine Residency Program. Having completed all of his post-secondary education at the University of Toronto, he is truly dedicated to the success of the program and the health of the community he serves. In addition to his medical degree and specialization, he holds an undergraduate degree in Kinesiology and a Masters in Medical Education.

Excellence in Leadership (New) – Fully Affiliated

Dr. Cristina de Lasa | The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
Dr. Cristina de Lasa is a Family Physician with a Certificate of Added Competence in Care of the Elderly. She is a Hospitalist, former Medical Education Lead and Medical Head in the Division of Hospital Medicine at CAMH. She is Assistant Professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. She has shown exceptional administrative, quality improvement and educational leadership advancing physical health care for individuals with severe mental illness.

Excellence in Leadership (New) – HPE Community Affiliated

Ms. Aurthi Muthukumaran | Scarborough Health Network – The Scarborough Hospital
Aurthi is a Physician Assistant (PA) working in Emergency Medicine and Orthopaedic Surgery at Scarborough Health Network (SHN). She graduated from the UofT PA Program in November 2020. She’s also the Academic Coordinator with the PA Program, partaking in curriculum development and  clinical teaching. The quality of her work, devotion to students, and ‘can-do’ attitude make her an integral member of the PA Program. Aurthi is passionate about advocating for the growing PA profession in Canada.

Excellence in Leadership (Sustained) – Community Affiliated

Dr. Farhan Asrar | Trillium Health Partners – Mississauga Hospital
Described by colleagues as “an award winning physician, researcher and among Canada’s brightest stars among leaders in medicine.” Farhan has excelled in leadership as a clinician, researcher, and academic. He has been championing Innovation, Collaboration and Partnerships. He has led international projects involving professionals, learners and experts from over 40 countries and 6 continents. His work has been published in international journals such as Nature Medicine, Lancet Infectious Diseases, Lancet Planetary Health, and others.

Excellence in Leadership (Sustained) – Fully Affiliated

Dr. Tania Tajirian | The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
Dr. Tania Tajirian is Chief of Hospital Medicine & Chief Medical Information Officer at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), and Assistant Professor (Site Chief) in the Department of Family & Community Medicine at the University of Toronto. In her roles, Dr. Tajirian has been instrumental in embedding Hospitalists as a core member of the care team at CAMH and has led the development of the Physician Engagement Strategy to address EHR-related burden and develop informatics tools to improve patient safety and quality of care. 

Excellence in Leadership (Sustained) – HPE Community Affiliated

Ms. Serena Beber | Toronto East Health Network – Michael Garron Hospital (South East Toronto Family Health Team)
Serena Beber has been practicing as a dietician at an academic teaching site since 1999 and has been on faculty at the DFCM since 2009. Over this time she has made significant contributions to our department through her teaching of our learners, many collaborative research projects on interprofessional teaching and learning, and formal and informal leadership roles. She is currently DFCM HPE Lead, and among other responsibilities, is hard at work helping build the HPE Community of Practice. 

Excellence in Quality Improvement – Community Affiliated

Inner City Health Associates Population Health Service
The Inner-City Health Associates Population Health Service (PHS) delivers a unique interdisciplinary program for people experiencing homelessness (PEH), incorporating data-driven quality improvement practices for equitable, accessible, and community engaged care. Through continuous and systematic quality improvement, the PHS has provided ~8,000 COVID vaccines to complex and high-risk individuals, empowered a network of 48 community Health Ambassadors with lived experiences of homelessness, and developed a rapid health assessment to respond to priority health needs among PEH.

Excellence in Quality Improvement – Fully Affiliated

Drs. Payal Agarwal, Debbie Elman, Erica Li, Kirsten Szymanski, Chris Meaney, and the Quality & Innovation Program Committee | DFCM – Quality and Innovation Program (multiple sites)
The work of the Quality & Innovation Program Committee (QPC) on the Patient Experience Survey has been critical in not only identifying opportunities for change and improvement at a site-level but has ensured that the patient voice is at the center of those changes. The QPC continues to ensure that the survey is responsive to the changing landscape of primary care and that the knowledge gained and lessons learned from the survey are disseminated widely. For these accomplishments they are more than deserving of the DFCM Excellence in Quality Improvement award. 

Excellence in Research – Senior Researcher

Dr. Kirsten Wentlandt | University Health Network – Toronto General Hospital
Dr. Kirsten Wentlandt has pioneered palliative care research for patients with non-malignant illnesses in Toronto, and has established an international reputation as a leader in this area. She has mentored countless local and international learners, and continues to inspire the next generation of palliative care clinicians. She is a tireless campaigner for access to palliative care for all who may need it, and is a worthy recipient of this award!

Excellence in Research – Junior Researcher

Dr. Braden O’Neill | Unity Health – St. Michael's Hospital – MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions, Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute
Dr. Braden O’Neill is a clinician-scientist and family physician who leads an expanding and influential research program in the areas of primary care for people with serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and the use of electronic medical record data for describing and improving the quality and provision of primary care. His accelerating productivity and policy impacts have garnered him national reputation. He is also a treasured teacher and mentor.

Excellence in Social Responsibility – Community Affiliated

Dr. Latif Murji | Scarborough Health Network – The Scarborough Hospital
Dr. Latif Murji's innovative VaxFacts Clinic exemplifies excellence in social responsibility in family medicine. Addressing vaccine hesitancy while prioritizing health equity, the clinic has successfully counseled over 2,500 patients from diverse backgrounds across Ontario, with an impressive 84% vaccination rate post-consultation. Dr. Murji's commitment to patient-centered care, accessibility, and collaboration transcends traditional healthcare boundaries, showcasing the potential of family medicine in tackling public health challenges and promoting a more equitable healthcare landscape.

Excellence in Social Responsibility – Fully Affiliated

Dr. Alissa Tedesco | Sinai Health System – Mount Sinai Hospital
Dr. Tedesco is dedicated to providing compassionate care and advocating for vulnerable populations. Her work has focused on improving health equity competency for medical learners in multiple ways. She developed an innovative curriculum that integrates education and training in social accountability with clinical care at the PEACH program and also helped lead the development of an advocacy project for students on their family medicine rotations. 

Excellence in Teaching (Early Career) – Community Affiliated

Dr. Chung Kit (Jacky) Lai | Royal Victoria Hospital
Dr. Jacky Lai is the gold standard of an effective clinical teacher who is wholeheartedly supportive of learners; his passion and dedication to teaching and mentorship is outstanding. 

Excellence in Teaching (Early Career) – Fully Affiliated

Dr. Lauren Payne | University Health Network – Toronto Western Hospital
Dr. Lauren Payne has been a Lecturer in the Department of Family and Community Medicine since 2018. She has been nominated for an Excellence in Teaching Award in recognition of her commitment to undergraduate and post graduate teaching, involvement in curriculum development, and passion for family medicine. Dr. Payne has worked hard to establish and promote the elective student program at the Garrison Creek Clinic and has been a dedicated mentor creating a positive learning environment for all of her students.

Excellence in Teaching (Early Career) – HPE Community Affiliated

Dr. Margaret Jin | Oak Valley Health
Margaret has been an amazing resource for teaching both learners and faculty alike in Markham. Her enthusiasm and commitment to continuing professional development has spilled over to all colleagues who have been lucky enough to work with her.

Excellence in Teaching (Sustained) – Community Affiliated

Dr. Navika Limaye | Unity Health Toronto - St. Joseph's Health Centre
Navika is well-respected by learners and colleagues and shares her knowledge generously. She has consistently received very high TES and in the past 3 years her scores are among the highest at our site. Learner quote: “Facilitates a great chart review at the end of clinic. Motivates learner to be a good clinician -- while also focus[ing] on time management. Always backing up clinical work with resources -- then provides these resources to her learners. Great!” 

Excellence in Teaching (Sustained) – Fully Affiliated

Dr. Amy Freedman | Unity Health Toronto – St. Michael's Hospital
Dr. Amy Freedman has been a pervasive and effective teaching force since her introduction to the department over twenty years ago. She participates in teaching at all levels – undergrad, postgraduate, and fellowship medicine – with extraordinary strengths in geriatric learning themes, complexity, collaboration and navigating social supports. Above all else, she is an incredible mentor and role model to all who have had the opportunity to train with her.

Helen Batty Excellence in Faculty Development – Community Affiliated

Dr. Milena Markovski | Southlake Regional Health Centre
Through her hard work and dedication to education, faculty development and scholarly activities, Dr. Markovski has supported faculty in successfully achieving promotions and further enhancing their skills as educators. She offers CPD activities to the medical community through local Grand Rounds and has presented to peers at regional accredited conferences. As a scholar she has contributed to presenting a poster at the DFCM Open conference, creating the Wellness accreditation module, contributed to the 6 steps to virtual supervision article, and has been awarded the Art of the Possible grant. 

Helen Batty Excellence in Faculty Development – Fully Affiliated

Dr. Michael Roberts | Sinai Health System – Mount Sinai Hospital
Dr. Roberts has been the Faculty Development Lead for MSH Family Med since 2008 where he has been instrumental in supporting and mentoring our faculty through their own PD. Michael skillfully guides and advises faculty on their professional identity formation, faculty appointments and promotions. He helps them to recognize their strengths and accomplishments and strategize around the further development of clinical, teaching and scholarship skills.

Philip Ellison Excellence in Continuing Professional Development Award

Dr. Muna Al-Khaifi | Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Dr. Al-Khaifi is a competent physician passionate about delivering high-quality care, with a particular focus on women’s health and breast disease, specifically breast cancer survivorship care. Dr. Al-Khaifi’s enthusiasm, expertise and comprehensive approach has positioned her to run a successful women’s health-focused practice in Toronto while simultaneously holding the role as the physician-lead of the Follow-up and Survivorship Program at Louise Temerty Breast Cancer Centre at Sunnybrook!

Staff Excellence – Community Affiliated

Ms. Paula Kilkenny | Unity Health Toronto – St. Joseph's Health Centre
Paula demonstrates sustained excellence in her leadership, advocacy, and teaching. She greatly contributes to the success of the SJHC FHT patient care initiatives. She is a pillar of the SJHC Home Visiting Program, and has made outstanding contributions to ensure its success, going far above and beyond her clinical role. She also had a pivotal role in the innovative home-based COVID-19 vaccine program. She is held in high regard by all colleagues, learners and administration.

Staff Excellence – Fully Affiliated

Ms. Inthuja Kanagasabapathy | University Health Network – Toronto Western Hospital
Inthuja is the lead nurse for our home-based care team looking over frail, medically complex elders. She worked tirelessly during COVID to protect our vulnerable patients. Without her special work ethic, expertise, patience, compassion, and profound empathy for the frail elderly and their families, we would not be able to adequately care for our patients in the way we do. She has gone far above and beyond the call of nursing duty and is our team backbone.

Staff Excellence in Collaboration – Central Department

Ms. Dana Arafeh | DFCM – Central Department
In a short time, Dana Arafeh has been extraordinarily successful in promoting patient and family voices as a key driver in care and education at the Department of Family and Community Medicine, across teaching sites, and within the broader community. From launching the inaugural DFCM Patient Advisory Committee, to developing a policy on patient partner compensation, to facilitating over 80 consultations on working with patient partners, Dana exemplifies staff excellence in collaboration.

Staff Excellence in Collaboration – Fully Affiliated

Mr. Walter Leahy | Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Walter Leahy is an exemplary team player who demonstrates robust aptitude in recognizing and advocating for novel initiatives. With his astute ability to propel initiatives forward while effectively engaging diverse stakeholders, Walter exemplifies an unparalleled work ethic. His professional conduct is characterized by inclusivity, as he successfully interacts with staff across various departments, ranging from upper leadership, allied professionals, support and maintenance crews, physicians, and patients.

Staff Excellence in Leadership Values – Fully Affiliated

Ms. Nassim Vahidi-Williams | Unity Health Toronto – St. Michael's Hospital
Nassim and Chantal embody the essence of meaningful co-leadership. Through their commitment to justice and equity, they have been invaluable to the SMHAFHT’s efforts in addressing Anti-Black and Anti-Indigenous racism. As co-chairs of the SMHAFHT’s Anti-Racism Advisory Committee, Chantal and Nassim have spearheaded the critical issues of ensuring all Black, Indigenous and racialized staff and learners have safe spaces to work and study, and they are invaluable resources to other SMHAFHT committees and members.

Ms. Chantal Sorhaindo | Unity Health Toronto – St. Michael's Hospital
Nassim and Chantal embody the essence of meaningful co-leadership. Through their commitment to justice and equity, they have been invaluable to the SMHAFHT’s efforts in addressing Anti-Black and Anti-Indigenous racism. As co-chairs of the SMHAFHT’s Anti-Racism Advisory Committee, Chantal and Nassim have spearheaded the critical issues of ensuring all Black, Indigenous and racialized staff and learners have safe spaces to work and study, and they are invaluable resources to other SMHAFHT committees and members.

Staff Excellence in Leadership Values – Central Department

Ms. Jianmin (Jamie) Wang | DFCM – Central Department
Jamie is a very experienced research project management professional. Her exceptional skills, experiences and dedication are highly regarded by colleagues both internally and externally. Her support for the Department’s administration and research endeavours has been exemplary. Her commitment to the success of the Department as a whole and UTOPIAN in particular has been phenomenal. She is an invaluable asset to both the Department and UTOPIAN.

Staff Excellence in Quality & Innovation – Fully Affiliated

Ms. Trish Marr | University Health Network – Toronto Western Hospital
Ms. Trish Marr is our pharmacist extraordinaire and embodies the definition of quality and innovation. She embraces challenges, values effort, and finds inspiration when faced with an obstacle. Nothing stops Dr. Marr in her tracks. Her strong work ethic consistently drives her to find solutions to problems and initiate transformation. Dr. Marr's ultimate goal in every project she oversees is to elevate patient care delivery, satisfaction, efficiency, safety and equity. Her passionate pursuit of excellence in EVERYTHING that she does, is admirable and deserving of recognition.

Staff Excellence in Quality & Innovation – Community Affiliated

Ms. Melissa Quinn | Toronto East Health Network – Michael Garron Hospital
Melissa is a highly valued member of our administrative team and she is integral to the success of education programs at Michael Garron Hospital. She has a proven track record of implementing creative strategies and processes that have transformed the way things are done in our office. When we have identified key challenges or inefficiencies, she has helped develop unique solutions that have led to improvements in the quality of the support we can provide to learners and colleagues.

Staff New Employee Award – Central Department

Ms. Madeleine (Madie) Morassutti | DFCM Central – Faculty Development Program
Madie Morassutti joined DFCM in Nov 2021 to support mentorship, wellness and awards. She is creative, calm, efficient and exhibits excellence in her administrative tasks. Madie is the go-to person when trouble shooting or brainstorming. She is diligent, detail oriented and integral to the team. Madie always displays a positive attitude and is held in high regard by faculty. She is the face and email that connects faculty with mentorship, wellness, and awards. Thank you Madie!

The Louise Nasmith Award

Dr. Stephanie Zhou | Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
Dr. Stephanie Zhou is an Addictions physician and the Equity, Diversity, Inclusion & Social Accountability Lead at Sunnybrook DFCM. She co-founded the Diversity Mentorship Program, the first equity-based mentorship program in a Canadian medical school. Today, this program has grown to over 120 mentorship pairs and expanded nationally to schools such as UBC and Queen’s University. As an EDI researcher, she has published in JAMA and the Journal of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion.