2020 DFCM Award of Excellence Winners

May 19, 2020

Congratulations to all of our 2020 Award of Excellence winners! Your efforts and contributions have helped to make this department one of the leading academic departments of family and community medicine around the world. Thank you for all your hard work and dedication to making this department the amazing institution that it is.

Academic Family Physician of the Year

Dr. Warren Rubenstein | Mount Sinai Hospital – Fully Affiliated Site
Dr. Rubenstein has made a unique sustained and innovative contribution to Family Medicine as clinician, educator, mentor, scholar and leader locally, nationally and internationally through his ongoing, sustained and remarkable career. His compiling his wisdom as the principal author of the textbook Medical Teaching in Ambulatory Care: A Practical Guide has set the standard for international ambulatory care teaching. Dr. Rubenstein is an exemplary Academic Family Physician, a role model to all of us.

Research Excellence

Senior Investigator

Dr. Tony Antoniou | St. Michael’s Hospital
Dr. Tony Antoniou is a pharmacist with a PhD in clinical epidemiology. He is a national leader in health services research, pharmacoepidemiology, harm reduction, and the prevention, care, and treatment human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C virus. He is extremely well published in high-ranking journals, and fully dedicated to community engagement across all stages of research. His genuine curiosity allows him to apply rigorous research skills to address important challenges experienced by his patients.

New Investigator

Dr. Sarina Isenberg | Mount Sinai Hospital
Sarina Isenberg is a scientist at the Temmy Latner Centre for Palliative Care at Sinai Health System. Sarina’s research goals are to assess access to palliative care, and design studies to improve access to and the quality of palliative care across. Sarina has been a co-principal and a co-investigator on research projects totaling C$996,000 supported by national grant funding agencies. She has published over 35 peer-reviewed publications (fourteen first author and four senior author).

Excellence in Leadership

Dr. Karen Fleming | Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre – Fully Affiliated Site
Dr. Karen Fleming has demonstrated a passion and leadership for the Department of Family and Community Medicine where she is Chief. She is well recognized and passionate leader who is respected for her work in promoting optimal health during and after pregnancy and for her leadership at Sunnybrook.

Dr. Jennifer McDonald | Scarborough Health Network – Community Affiliated Site
Dr. Jennifer McDonald is an outstanding Leader and Role model. She provides exceptional support and encourages residents and colleagues to be their best. She promotes wellness, communication, collaboration, integrity, and fosters pride in the Family Medicine Residency Program at the Scarborough Health Network. Dr. McDonald has a strong vision to continuously improve the program for the future.

Excellence in New Leadership

Dr. Benjamin Kaasa | UHN – Toronto Western Hospital – Fully Affiliated Site
Dr. Benjamin Kaasa has a comprehensive family practice at the Toronto Western Family Health Team, and has specific clinical interests in hospital medicine and geriatrics.He is the clinical director of the Family Medicine Inpatient Unit, as well as Program Director for UofT’s PGY-3 Enhanced Skills year in hospitalist medicine. He hails from Alberta and is an excellent bicycler.

Dr. Amanda West | Markham Stouffville Hospital – Community Affiliated Site
Dr. Amanda West is a remarkable family physician, and excellent clinician-teacher. Her exceptional leadership skills have been fundamental to the development and continued success of the family medicine residency program at Markham Stouffville.

Ms. Jessica Bawden | Women’s College Hospital – HPE Fully Affiliated Site
Jessica Bawden, nurse practitioner, has a leadership style characterized by passion, vision, collaboration and advocacy. Thanks to her leadership, WCH family practice now has a large, successful infant feeding program that is highly valued by patients and includes regular clinical and formal teaching of breast feeding to medical and allied health leaners. Future directions for the program include formal program evaluation, expansion to provide more virtual care and expansion to support patients beyond WCH.

The Louise Nasmith Award

Dr. Ritika Goel | St. Michael’s Hospital
Dr. Goel joined the St. Michael’s AFHT in 2019 bringing with her experience caring for marginalized populations. She uses an equity lens to examine how teams can meet the needs of the most marginalized in our communities, and ensures we provide culturally safe, non-judgmental and trauma-informed care spaces. Dr. Goel challenges us to understand the historical, political and social context of all that we do in medicine, and how it impacts the care of patients, the way we interact with colleagues and learners, and how we determine our academic activities. Dr. Goel is uniquely positioned, as a racialized woman, an immigrant and an experienced activist, to develop educational content that can seek to disrupt the status quo and shift the culture of medicine towards anti-oppressive practice and social justice.

Philip Ellison Excellence in Continuing Professional Development Award

Dr. Tara Kiran | St. Michael’s Hospital – Fully Affiliated
It is my absolute pleasure to nominate Dr. Tara Kiran for the Philip Ellison Excellence in Continuing Professional Development (CPD) award.  I cannot think of a more fitting candidate in the award’s inaugural year. Over the past four years, Dr. Kiran has developed an innovative CPD program to advance the use of data among family physicians for learning and improvement. This innovative program, with its strong connection to practice improvement, represents the future of how CPD should and can be delivered in Canada.

Dr. Jennifer Hopfner | St. Joseph’s Health Centre – Community Affiliated
It is apparent from Dr. Hopfner’s impressive CV, her leadership in so many areas of Palliative Care, from a departmental to a network wide level.  She has now extended this leadership to the education of her colleagues in health care. She is the recipient of many awards, received on a consistent basis, since she started her medical career. This award would prove to be another well-deserved recognition of her contribution towards increased awareness and knowledge of palliative care and would encourage her to continue to reach for new heights.

Sustained Excellence in Teaching

Dr. Purti Papneja | Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre – Fully Affiliated Site
Dr. Papneja is a truly excellent teacher. She continually demonstrates a passion for resident and medical student education. During Clinics, regardless of that day’s stress or time constraints, she takes the time to stimulate learners to formulate differential diagnoses, work-up and management plans and teaches around cases. Her consistency and teaching style makes every clinic with her an enjoyable and valuable learning experience. The Department of Family and Community Medicine is glad we can recognize Dr. Papneja for her excellent work.

Dr. Gina Yip | Markham Stouffville Hospital – Community Affiliated Site
Dr. Gina Yip is an exemplary teacher who has truly gone above and beyond with respect to commitment to medical education. Her genuine dedication and passion for teaching is inspirational to both students and colleagues alike.

Dr. Gweneth Sampson | Stouffville Medical Centre – Community Site
Dr. Gweneth Sampson has been a valued teacher for the Department of Family and Community Medicine for over 10 years. She has been a consistently supportive, conscientious, enthusiastic and welcoming preceptor. Her tremendous teaching abilities have truly empowered others to become better clinicians and teachers themselves.

Excellence in Teaching (Early Career)

Dr. Vanessa Redditt | Women’s College Hospital – Fully Affiliated Site
Dr. Vanessa Redditt is a staff physician at the Crossroads Clinic at Women’s College Hospital. She has a passion for educating students, residents and community partners. She has a deep interest in the health of newly arrived refugees and has been instrumental in developing a number of novel and creative programs to educate learners about this population. Dr. Redditt is quickly becoming recognized as a national leader in the education around refugee health issues.

Dr. Corey Boimer | Markham Stouffville Hospital – Community Affiliated Site
Dr. Corey Boimer has established himself as an excellent role model for medical learners in the emergency room environment. He goes above and beyond to deliver an exceptional learning experience to his learners on every shift.

Dr. Jonathan Hunchuck | Sumac Creek Health Centre – HPE Fully Affiliated Site
Since joining the DFCM, Jon has been instrumental in the development and delivery of several core educational programs across SMHAFHT.  He is an active member of our IPE Committee, teaches medical student and resident seminars, facilitates DOCH1/HC, provides endless formal and informal teaching to peers and other faculty, and hosts in-clinic preceptorships for learners from pharmacy, medicine and other programs. Feedback on his teaching is consistently excellent.  Always willing to share his expertise, Jon models excellence in interprofessional teaching and we are honoured to nominate him for this award.

Excellence in Course/Program Development

Dr. Rahim Abdulhussein | Scarborough Health Network – Community Affiliated Site
Dr. Rahim Abdulhussein deserves recognition for the truly fantastic work he is doing as the Palliative Care rotation lead at Scarborough Health Network. Dr. Abdulhussein took over leadership of the rotation in 2016 and embarked on a thorough review of the learning experiences to ensure the competency-based curriculum is robustly covered and reviewed resident feedback extensively to ensure his changes were of benefit to his learners. He is respectful, thoughtful and an excellent mentor to residents.

Ms. Jane Smart | Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre – HPE Fully Affiliated Site
Jane Smart, registered nurse, is clearly passionate about the Homebound Seniors program and educating family medicine residents. She is very supportive of their educational needs, offering flexibility to learners, allowing hands-on learning, encouraging residents to take ownership and develop their competency in providing care to this marginalized population.  Her hard work in helping establish and sustaining the educational component of Homebound Seniors program makes her a deserving candidate for this award.

Excellence in Development and Use of Innovative Instructional Methods

Dr. Allan Grill | Markham Stouffville Hospital – Community Affiliated Site
Dr. Allan Grill has distinguished himself as a national leader in the development of innovative medical educational tools related to both chronic kidney disease and appropriate antibiotic prescribing.

Excellence in Creative Professional Activity

Dr. Bjug Borgundvaag | Mount Sinai Hospital – Fully Affiliated Site
Starting from scratch 6 years ago, Dr. Borgundvaag conceived and built the Schwartz/Reisman Emergency Medicine Institute into a thriving model of academic excellence in emergency medicine. His goal is to improve ED care by advancing research and education in EM. Educationally, SREMI includes the EMCases Podcast (9 million downloads), 2 annual conferences, a clinician educator, and 4 EM Fellowship positions. Their research operations include a Chair in Geriatric EM, 4 clinician scientists (including a PhD Clinical epidemiologist), who together have produced 122 peer reviewed research publications, and participated in over $12.5M in peer reviewed research funding in the last 5 years.

Education Scholarship Excellence

Senior Clinician Education Scholar

Dr. Diana Toubassi | Toronto Western Hospital
Dr. Toubassi graduated from the University of Toronto with a specialist degree in Human Biology and a major in Psychology before completing medical school and residency, also at the University of Toronto. She was Site Director, Postgraduate Education from 2012-2017, overseeing the Family Medicine residency program at the Toronto Western Family Health Team. Her research interests include narrative and reflective writing in medicine, concepts of physician wellness, and consultative processes.

New Clinician Educator Scholar

Dr. Ahmed Al-Awamer | Princess Margaret Cancer Center
Ahmed Al-Awamer is the cofounder and Co-Director of the Clinical Palliative Care Fellowship at UHN. He has developed a Fellowship curriculum and a Teaching curriculum for all learner levels. Responding to the needs of the International Fellows he created an online bridging program consisting of podcasts, videos and more. International Palliative Fellows now start their Fellowship at home for 8 weeks acquiring the knowledge and skills for a seamless transition into the Canadian healthcare system.

Senior Education Scientist Scholar

Dr. Susan Glover Takahashi | Department of Family and Community Medicine
Dr. Susan Glover Takahashi is recognized for her strong and longstanding commitment to postgraduate education scholarship at DFCM and for her contributions to medical education scholarship nationally and internationally. She is a valued team member in the Office of Education Scholarship and a highly sought-after collaborator and mentor for many faculty and students. 

New Education Scientist Scholar

Dr. Sarah Wright | Michael Garron Hospital
In her relatively short time with the DFCM, Dr. Sarah Wright has made incredible progress as a scientist and scholar. She has transformed from a newly minted PhD into a highly-skilled teacher, mentor and colleague. She is recognized for her scholarly productivity and impact, and for her valued contribution as a faculty member in the Office of Education Scholarship.

Excellence in Faculty Development

Dr. Eleanor Colledge | Michael Garron Hospital – Community Affiliated Site
I am delighted to nominate Dr. Eleanor Colledge for the Excellence in Faculty Development program level award. Dr. Colledge has made significant contributions to the Department of Family and Community Medicine’s (DFCM) focus on faculty development. She first joined the DFCM committee for Faculty Development in 2014. Since that time she has been a steadfast contributor to several Faculty Development central initiatives including acting as a presenter and moderator for the multi-day series BASICs program, while also supporting local site Faculty Development initiatives at the Michael Garron hospital site.

Excellence in Social Responsibility

Dr. Julia Rackal | St. Michael’s Hospital – Fully Affiliated Site
Dr. Julia Rackal has engaged with creative program and team development focused on the social determinants of health for over a decade.  Since 2017 she has led the St. Michael’s Academic Family Health Team in an exploration of the impact of racism on health.  While this work has proven challenging, and at times met with resistance, she has carried it forward with dedication, humour, and a natural leadership that has forged a path toward transformative change.

Dr. Amit Arya | William Osler Health System – Community Affiliated Site
Dr. Amit Arya exemplifies the physician demonstrating social responsibility. His active involvement in community projects, cultural diversity initiatives and improving the quality of life of long-term residents underline his commitment to bringing equitable palliative care to patients. His unselfish giving of his time to his patients, colleagues and friends comes naturally to him. In addition, his leadership at a local and national level will allow him to affect positive change.

Quality Improvement Award of Excellence

Dr. Tara Kiran, Dr. Karen Weyman, Ms. Jacqueline Chen, Ms. Jane Cooney, Mr. Sam Davies, Mr. Cian Knights, Ms. Linda Jackson & Ms. Nassim Vahidi | St. Michael’s Hospital – Fully Affiliated Site
Dr. Kiran and her team at St. Michael’s Hospital Academic Family Health Team’s approach to patient engagement offers primary care teams an alternative, accessible method for engaging patients –one that is designed to involve a diverse group of patients and provides richness in understanding and direction for action. This iterative approach included the initiation of routine Patient Experience Surveys, thoughtful design and implementation of a Patient Engagement Day and finally, a robust mechanism for continuous patient involvement in practice improvement via a Patient and Family Advisory Committee. The practicality and uniqueness of this approach have led to this team being highlighted as an innovative practice internationally.

Dr. Martin Shack, Mr. Eric Lui & Ms. Jianmin Wang | North York General Hospital – Community Affiliated Site
Dr. Shack is a solo physician with a large geriatric practice. Eric Lui, NYFHT pharmacist and Jianmin Wang, Spider Project Manager, formed his team. Project was Deprescribing in Complex Geriatric Patients: Value of Team Based Care. Key points: There were some successes in depgrescribing but the process was labour intensive. Inequities in care this solo MD could provide to this high risk group without access to FHT support were evident. Team-based care is essential.

Staff Excellence in Collaboration

Ms. Patricia O’Brien | Department of Family and Community Medicine – Fully Affiliated Site
Trish is the heart of the DFCM Quality & Innovation Program and embodies the spirit of collaboration in all she does. She has been integral to supporting our 14 sites to deliver our postgraduate curriculum, working with local teams to tailor the curriculum to context. She was instrumental in advancing the first joint Q&I and UTOPIAN collaboration, SPIDER that embedded QI methods with practice-based research. She has collaborated with extensively with colleagues in Global Health and Education, advancing the teaching of QI using innovative methods.

Ms. Beverly Nutt | Markham Stouffville Hospital – Community Affiliated Site
Since joining the Markham Family Medicine Teaching Unit, Bev has worked tirelessly to collaborate across various departments within our hospital organization. Remarkably, she has also independently created opportunities to collaborate with other program directors from other teaching units.

Staff Excellence in Leadership Values

Ms. Allison Mullin | Department of Family and Community Medicine – Fully Affiliated Site
Ms. Mullin demonstrates significant leadership in many departmental initiatives. Her expertise, vision and ability to lead large-scale projects have resulted in two key departmental publications: 1.Celebrating Fifty Years–The Department of Family and Community Medicine’s 2018-2019 Annual report 2.The UofT Family Medicine Report.  Ms. Mullin always brings a collaborative collegial spirit to the table. Her leadership style is participatory. Her expertise in communications is integral to many programmatic based decisions.

Staff Excellence

Ms. Julia Baxter | Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) – Central DFCM
Julia has been a dedicated member of the Research Program, for many years. As Coordinator, she has been the glue that has held the program together. The ‘go to person’ for any questions or help. Everyone in the program relies on her to ensure that all the administrative aspects of the program run smoothly. She supports everyone in their work. She is always professional, organized and helpful in every respect.

Ms. Erin Tigchelaar | Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre – Fully Affiliated Site
As the Education Coordinator for the Family Medicine residents and clerks at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Erin Tigchelaar has demonstrated an unwavering and extraordinary commitment to enhancing our training experience. Erin’s easy to approach nature, genuine care for her trainees, and determination to find a solution irrespective of how complicated a problem may be, make her a natural fit for her role. We feel she is especially deserving of this award this year for her decade of commitment.

Ms. Hersh Pandya | Trillium Health Partners – Credit Valley Hospital – Community Affiliated Site
Hersh is an integral member of our department and central to its ongoing success. Her outstanding dedication and tireless advocacy and support for our learners and faculty have won the admiration of all those she supports. Learners and faculty consistently describe her as “indispensable”, ”above and beyond”, affirming “her contributions are priceless”.