Congratulations to the recipients of the 2020 BCCFP awards!
Dr. Tahmeena Ali is a full-service family physician currently practising in Surrey. Prior to this, she spent 10 years working as a family physician in a rural town in the emergency department, covering inpatients, providing obstetrical care and running a full-time practice. She identifies the needs of under-served communities and quickly gets to work on the ground. Her clinical work exemplifies her compassion for working with vulnerable populations.
Dr. Ali is the Chair of the White Rock South Surrey Division of family Practice, advocating for improved access to primary care in her community. She has worked with the Traumatic Brain Injury unit at Yale Road and has an interest in Adverse Childhood Events (ACE), working at the Vine Youth Clinic and serving as an active member of the ACEs Working Group. Dr. Ali also currently acts as a reflective portfolio coach with the UBC Undergraduate Medical Curriculum and spends a few weeks each year locuming in remote BC communities.
Her nominator told us, “Dr. Ali is one of the most approachable, humble and kind humans I know. She is intelligent, forever curious and an incredible writer. She dedicates herself to others in her work and advocacy. She always finds the time to teach and mentor, despite her busy schedule. I admire her work ethic and dedication to our field. Outside of work, she is one of the most caring friends I have, and is such a good mom and partner.”
Dr. Ali says, “My eyes welled up when I received news of the award. It affirmed to me that being the best version of myself eventually prevails, even if looks and feels different from those around me. Having an amazing and supportive team at home and at work certainly helps too!”
My Family Doctor Award: Dr. Rachel Collins (Fraser Health)
Dr. Collins nominator says, "I had been travelling abroad for some time when I landed in a foreign hospital's ICU with health issues that turned out to be complex. Through everything, I have had Dr. Collins beside me at every step, working with specialists; ensuring I understand everything; providing me with all the information she comes across; and bringing me the most human and caring support imaginable. She makes me feel that we are team navigating a system, a mysterious illness, and a life-changing event together.”
Dr. Rachel Collins graduated with a BSc in Physiology from University College Cork in Ireland before completing her medical degree and a PhD (Neurophysiology) at the University of Cambridge. She worked in hospital medicine for a number of years before deciding that family medicine was for her.
Dr. Collins has practised as a full-time family physician since 2015. Her family moved to BC in 2017 and since then she has been practising in Agassiz in the Fraser Valley. Dr. Collins says that the medical office assistants, home health team, nurse practitioners and fellow family physicians make it a wonderful team.
Dr. Collins has a special interest in the assessment and treatment of those living with obesity and recently started a weight reduction clinic in Agassiz. She is a faculty member for the Chilliwack residency program.
Dr. Collins says, “What I enjoy most about family medicine is the relationship that is built up over time with the patient and the variety of medicine you see from day to day. I feel incredibly privileged to be the person patients look to for guidance through what can often be the most challenging and difficult situation they will ever face. I enjoy the humourous interactions I have with many of my patients every day. I consider myself extremely fortunate to do this job.”
My Family Doctor Award: Dr. Kalen Geddes (Northern Health)
Dr. Geddes nominator says, “He cared enough to change my husband’s quality of life, not just quantity of life, because he really cared. He talked to us and took time with us to find a balance that we both agreed on. He went out of his way to research questions we asked and helped us make life-changing decisions that we could both manage and still maintain. We weren't just a number on a chart that you should reach. He put us through a lot of changes before we found something that worked, but he did find it and we are so grateful that he cares about his patients. He means everything to us."
Dr. Kalen Geddes is a family physician practising in Prince George. He has an interest in primary care obstetrics and practises as a hospitalist and medical assistance in dying (MAID) provider. In addition to his family practice, Dr. Geddes works out of the youth primary care clinic and gender-affirming care clinic at Foundry Prince George. He is a clinical instructor for the Northern Medical Program and UBC residency programs. Dr. Geddes values the longitudinal continuity of care from birth to death he is able to provide through family medicine, as well as the variety of practice opportunities family medicine offers.
My Family Doctor Award: Dr. Peter Lutsky (Vancouver Coastal Health)
Dr. Lutsky's nominator says, “I feel that he goes above and beyond and doesn’t give up until he finds an answer to whatever is going on with his patients and is always keeping up with his knowledge…The effort, compassion, care and humour of having him as our care provider for most of my life, all of my teens’ life, and our extended family is the reason our health is where it is at now. We would be at a huge loss without him as our family physician.”
Dr. Peter Lutsky did his undergraduate studies in chemical engineering before graduating from UBC medical school. He interned in Toronto and then completed his family practice residency back in BC. Dr. Lutsky says he was lucky to take over from a great family physician, Dr. Morton Dodek, in 1991, continuing a tradition of care in a practice that has lasted over six decades. For almost 30 years, he has been practising in Vancouver – seeing patients, teaching UBC medical students and collecting bad puns and “dad jokes.” During these difficult times, Dr. Lutsky continues to remind his patients that “they matter” – unless, of course, they are travelling at the speed of light, then “they energy”.
My Family Doctor Award: Dr. Patricia Olsen (Island Health)
Dr. Olsen's nominator says, “Her actions express more than words could, which was demonstrated to me when she visited me in hospital during a days-long stay in the pediatric unit with my toddler son. It is difficult to describe the feelings of reassurance, support and genuine care that overwhelmed me at seeing such a friendly and caring face during a time of uncertainty and despair… Dr. Olsen has always made her patients feel welcome, heard and cared for. I am forever grateful that my health care journey introduced me to Dr. Olsen and her family practice."
Dr. Patricia Olsen grew up along the north shore of Lake Superior in Northern Ontario. She has a BSc from the University of Western Ontario and earned her M.D. from the University of Ottawa in 1990. After completing her family medicine residency in Ottawa in 1992, she returned to Thunder Bay and practised for two years before moving across the country to Victoria, where she has been in full-service family practice since.
Dr. Olsen is especially passionate about maternity care and babies and, as a matter of fact, had four of her own. She feels deeply privileged to have been part of her patients’ lives over many years and recognizes the positive impact a long-term relationship has on patient care and job satisfaction. Outside of work, Dr. Olsen is active in the community and loves music and the arts – but her favourite pastime of all is cheering on her kids in their many adventures and activities.
My Family Doctor Award: Dr. Mark Szynkaruk (Interior Health)
Dr, Szynkaruk's nominator says, “My wife was thought to be suffering from Parkinson's Disease, but with further scans it was discovered she had lung cancer that had metastasized in her brain and other places in her body. Dr. Szynkaruk did not sugar coat the possibilities ahead of her but has been extremely helpful and has made himself available when needed. He has become one of her cheer leaders and has supported all and everything she has wanted to try or not try as regards to treatment. He has been honest and forthright, while being extremely supportive and has his team on my wife's side."
Dr. Mark Szynkaruk graduated medical studies from the University of Toronto in 2015 and completed his family medicine residency at the rural program in Trail, B.C. He has been practising full-scope family practice for nearly three years. He currently works as a family physician in Grand Forks, B.C.
Dr. Szynkaruk’s practice includes family medicine office, emergency medicine and addictions work through mental health. He has a special interest in chronic pain and basic interventional pain techniques, including nerve blocks and trigger points. Dr. Szynkaruk’s other professional commitments include clinical faculty involvement and direct preceptorship of both medical students and rural family medicine residents.
Dr. Szynkaruk says, “The most enjoyable aspect of family medicine is the variety of work with both adults and children through all chapters of life. I have been able to develop connection to my local community through my role as a family physician and feel very welcome and appreciated because of my career as a family doctor. I also enjoy the relationships I have fostered through my work and my ability to make a positive change in the life of my patients. Family medicine also affords me the opportunity to teach and mentor students and I am appreciative of the opportunity to pay it forward like my favourite preceptors who trained me in the past.”
Outside of his professional career, Dr. Sznykaruk has a personal interest in downtown revitalization initiatives in Grand Forks. His spare time is spent with his wife, nine-month-old son, and in the saddle of a bicycle.
Family Medicine Advocate Award: Dr. Lawrence Yang
Dr. Lawrence Yang is currently the head of the Family Medicine department at Surrey Memorial Hospital. He completed his family medicine residency at the Weill Cornell Medicine in 2008. Dr. Yang is passionate about prioritizing physician connectedness for wellness of the health force and the community at large. He is part of the Primary Care Networks development in Surrey North Delta, which aims to bring family physicians together in their neighbourhoods to collaborate and partner to achieve data-informed community health outcome improvement.
He is a core member of the Surrey Memorial Hospital and the Fraser Health Physician Wellness Committee Working Groups.
Dr. Yang spearheaded the “Opioid Agonist Therapy Force” (OAT Force) – a group of multi-disciplinary professionals, peers with lived experience, and parents of peers who believe in providing lower barrier trauma-informed buprenorphine therapy to patients who are struggling with opioid-related challenges.
Dr. Yang is passionate about mentoring and sharing of learning. He is a faculty member at the world- leading physician quality improvement (PQI) program in Fraser Health and loves his time spent with colleagues in team-based problem solving. He is an administrator of a rapidly growing Canadian national Facebook group for patient voices and health professionals called the “Canadian Health and Care Quality Improvement Network“ (CHACQIN).
First Five Years of Practice Award: Dr. Alyssa Cantarutti
Dr. Alyssa Cantarutti is a family physician with additional certification in Sports and Exercise Medicine (SEM). She received her undergraduate degree in Biochemistry at McMaster University in 2012 and went on to graduate from McMaster’s MD program in 2015. She did her residency training in Family Medicine at the University of British Columbia, based at St. Paul’s Hospital, and obtained her CCFP in 2017.
Dr. Cantarutti is passionate about primary care; her patients range from newborns to the elderly and she enjoys caring for several multi‐generational families. Dr. Cantarutti is also a clinical instructor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of British Columbia. She loves being outside and spends her spare time hiking, running and cycling. She lives in Mount Pleasant with her husband, Jan.
Resident Leadership Award: Dr. Rebekah Eatmon
Dr. Rebekah Eatmon completed her Doctorate in Medicine at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2018 and is now a Family Medicine Resident at the Vancouver Indigenous Site. Dr. Eatmon is a champion for family medicine, with a particular focus on how relationship‐based family practice is critical for improving care for Indigenous and vulnerable populations.
Dr. Eatmon draws on her lived experiences to strive towards a system that is more comprehensive, accessible and provides culturally safe care for everyone. She is a facilitator with the UBC 23-24 Indigenous Cultural Safety curriculum for all health professional training programs at UBC. Dr. Eatmon is also an advisor on the UBC Faculty of Medicine Indigenous Student Engagement Pathways Working Group and acts as co-lead on the Indigenous Voice Project: a simulation session that brings together medical students with trained Indigenous actors to gain practical skills in cultural safety. She is a passionate advocate in the broader community.
Dr. Manoo and Jean Gurjar Award: Dr. Jessica Briggs
Dr. Jessica Briggs is currently a first-year resident in the UBC-Fraser Family Practice Residency Program. She earned her Doctor of Medicine at UBC and completed her Bachelor of Science with Distinction, Linguistics at the University of Victoria in 2014.
Dr. Briggs was an active member of the UBC Family Medicine Interest Group as a medical student, organizing workshops and events for fellow medical students who were also interested in family medicine. She also presented at the 2019 BCCFP Family Medicine Conference for Students and was the recipient of the 2018 CFPC Medical Student Scholarship.
Dr. Manoo and Jean Gurjar Award: Dr. Anmol Lamba
Dr. Anmol Lamba is the program chief resident for the University of British Columbia Family Practice Residency Program. He completed his Graduate Diploma in Clinical Epidemiology and Doctor of Medicine at McMaster University and earned his Professional Master of Medical Sciences at Queen’s University.
Dr. Lamba works with and leads 19 site-specific chief residents.
He is committed to providing effective and relevant leadership to the residents of the program. Dr. Lamba also acts as a Physician Tutor to those in the Undergraduate Medial Education Program at UBC.