More than 400 people took the time to nominate family physicians from across the province. We heard stories of kindness, leadership, creativity, community engagement, unwavering support for patients and colleagues, and life-changing care.
Without exception, the nominations were full of admiration and gratitude, making clear what an incredible difference family physicians make in the lives of their patients.
Congratulations to the recipients of the 2023 BCCFP awards!
If you would like to join us in celebrating this year’s recipients, click here to visit the resources page where you can download individual and group images for your socials and relevant communications.
BC Family Physician of the Year: Dr. Jennifer LushAccording to one of her peers, Dr. Jennifer Lush has "selflessly changed the landscape of family medicine in BC for the better." On entering medical school at the UBC, she thought she was headed for a surgical career, but realized what she wanted most was an ongoing relationship with her patients, such as that unique to family physicians. It's clear Dr. Lush has achieved exactly this, with one nominator writing that "family medicine does not seem like a career choice for Dr. Lush, it was more of a calling. Some people are born natural healers and givers and Dr. Lush is one of them."
Having worked as a family physician in rural towns and cities across BC, Alberta and Australia, doing locum work, obstetrics, rural emergency room coverage and longitudinal community family practice, Dr. Lush opened her current practice in Victoria in 2016 and now serves as clinical faculty for the Island Medical Program and UBC Family Medicine Residency Program.
Disheartened by the resignations and practice closures of many esteemed and talented colleagues, Dr. Lush became involved in advocacy work. Supporting the message that ‘Everyone Deserves a Family Doctor’, she used mainstream and social media as a platform to highlight the critical importance of family physicians, and the barriers being faced by those seeking to deliver that care.
“Dr. Lush is an absolute inspiration to her colleagues, patients and friends,” says another of her peers. “She truly exemplifies what it means to be an effective teacher, healer, scholar and wonderful human being. She is a beacon and leader in a time when we all need it so dearly.”
“It is my belief that if all residents of BC had access to a family doctor like Dr Jennifer Lush we would be a healthier, happier more compassionate society.”
First Five Years of Practice Award: Dr. Bradley LittleDr. Bradley Little is a family physician working at Spectrum Health in downtown Vancouver. He provides longitudinal care to a diverse family practice including specialized care for people living with HIV, transgender people, and the queer community; demonstrating "exceptional advocacy by incorporating marginalized populations in his work while putting primary care at the forefront" according to one of his peers.
Dr. Little’s leadership is demonstrated through his role as the Family Practice Champion on a five year value-based healthcare project, which strives to fundamentally redesign how care is delivered. One colleague notes Dr. Little’s efforts to “ensure truth and reconciliation is applied to any program developed” through consultation with Indigenous leadership.
Dr. Little also led the transition to virtual care for Spectrum Health during the COVID-19 pandemic to avoid interruptions to care. One nominator detailed how “kind, patient and incredibly supportive of other team members [he was] throughout this process, including some older physician colleagues who are not nearly as comfortable with technology.”
He has advocated for LGBTQ+ people through multiple publications, such as an article on PrEP for HIV prevention in the Canadian Family Physician Journal, and contributing to the RxFiles textbook pages on PrEP and HIV treatment. Notably, he was invited to add transgender and non-binary clinical additions to the Gray’s Anatomy textbook series, making this the first influential anatomy textbook to do so. He is also a clinical instructor in the UBC Department of Family Medicine, sharing his knowledge of this population with future physicians.
He chose family medicine because of the unique nature of the therapeutic relationship and to have the platform to improve the lives of LGBTQ+ people. He is inspired by the resilience of the LGBTQ+ community and is looking forward to seeing LGBTQ+ people healthy and thriving into the next generation.
My Family Doctor Award: Dr. Ingrid Cosio - Prince GeorgeDr. Ingrid Cosio has been a partner in a shared group family practice in Prince George for 18 years who, according to a nominator, "exudes empathy and compassion." When describing their experience visiting Dr. Cosio's clinic, they wrote, "Going in feels like you are receiving a warm hug! Dr. Cosio puts you at ease, makes you feel like no question is a stupid one, and is genuinely interested in you as a person."
Dr. Cosio is a primary preceptor for the UBC Prince George Family Medicine Residency Program and recently completely a 10 year appointment as the Behavioural Medicine faculty lead at this site. More recently, Dr. Cosio started the Prince George Physician Peer Support Program.
She is also the Physician Lead for the Northern Gender Clinic which provides gender affirming care. A nominator describes Dr. Cosio as “very well respected by her Family Medicine peers and specialists alike and has been providing gender affirming care to patients for over 10 years.”
My Family Doctor Award: Dr. Paul Graham - ChilliwackDr. Paul Graham pursued family medicine with the idea of helping others navigate their health through all walks of life. He has grown to appreciate the delicacy of life, meaningful connections with patients, and helping in small ways to listen, guide and advocate for patients. "When his patients' anxiety, fear, or shame is exposed, he is empathetic, kind, and non-judgemental," says a patient of Dr. Graham, "He then gently begins to guide them through the steps they need to take to wellness. He considers not only their physical health, but also their mental, emotional, and spiritual health."
Dr. Graham completed his undergraduate training in 2006 at the University of Calgary then moved to Chilliwack for the Family Medicine Residency Program which prompted him to start a full-service practice – including obstetrics and hospital work – in 2008.
“When Dr. Graham walks into his examination room, he doesn’t just see a diagnosis or a problem that needs to be fixed. He truly tries to see the person sitting in front of him,” describes a nominator. “He is present with his patients, taking the time to listen and walk alongside them in whatever struggles they may be having. He isn’t afraid to dig below the surface.”
“Dr. Graham goes above and beyond, compassionately caring for and valuing his patients as the individuals that they are.”
My Family Doctor Award: Dr. Sheldon Howard - VancouverDr. Sheldon Howard has been a family physician in Vancouver's downtown eastside for more than 50 years, demonstrating "unwavering commitment to improving the lives of the most vulnerable members of our society." writes one of his patients. Dr. Howard "recognizes that homelessness and poverty are complex issues that require a multifaceted approach. He takes the time to get to know his patients and understand the underlying issues that may be contributing to their health problems."
Dr. Howard was also a hospitalist for Vancouver General Hospital (VGH) and sat on the Board of Directors for drug treatment programs including Odd Squad Productions Society.
“He works tirelessly to provide medical care, preventative services, and referrals to social services, housing, and addiction treatment programs,” adds a nominator, “His clinic is always open to anyone in need, regardless of presence of health care coverage.”
When Dr. Howard first applied for VGH privileges in 1972, he told a fellow physician he was ready to “give back” and hopes he has accomplished just that.
My Family Doctor Award: Dr. Anna Mason - VictoriaAfter completion of family medicine residency in Toronto in 2001, Dr. Anna Mason moved to Vancouver Island in 2002 and opened her own practice in 2010. Dr. Mason places importance on knowing all of her patients' stories to give context for care, with one patient sharing how "[Dr. Mason] believed in me and saw the potential I still had to recover and make positive changes in my life when it felt like I had no hope left. If it was not for Dr. Mason I would likely not be graduating this spring!"
Dr. Mason sits on the Victoria Divisions of Family Practice Board and is involved in the development of the Victoria Primary Care Network as one of the co-leads for her neighbourhood.
One nominator wrote that they have “repeatedly been impressed not only with Dr. Mason’s knowledge about her fellow doctors and her desire to see them succeed, but the fact that she has gone out of her way to be a coach and support for the success of clinics in which she has no financial interest.”
Dr. Mason also feels strongly about supporting the existing Patient Medical Homes in Victoria and is an “advocate for improving the accessibility of primary care services to ‘unattached patients’ in her geographic area and interested in leveraging existing technology to close these gaps, improving outcomes for all.”
My Family Doctor Award: Dr. Ella Monro - PrincetonDr. Ella Monro completed her UBC undergraduate degree and Family Medicine Residency in Prince George and moved to Princeton shortly after; now providing full-service rural family medicine to the Princeton community. "She is our family doctor. First she had my husband and I and then added my mom when she moved to town as she aged," says one nominator. "She then added my daughter-in-law who was pregnant and didn't have a doctor. Then my son and new baby. Truly a family doctor."
“[Dr. Monro] set up a clinic at the hospital so doctors on call could still have patients when they weren’t in emergency. She set up Princeton Hospital to be a teaching hospital for interns to come and practice,” writes one of her patients.
“Before COVID-19, she had set up a system so that specialists came to our hospital once every three months which allowed older patients not to avoid travelling out of town.”
Dr. Monro has also helped to train many medical students and residents during her time as a family physician and hopes to have inspired them to consider rural practice.
R2 Resident Award: Dr. Rachel CookDr. Rachel Cook is an R2 training at the UBC Family Medicine Kamloops site where she is "a key member of [the] team that goes the extra mile for her fellow residents to make them feel loved and supported." She completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Thompson Rivers University in Kamloops and worked as an addictions nurse prior to earning her medical degree at the University of British Columbia.
Dr. Cook’s youth was spent in the foster system, and she understands firsthand the effects that substance use can have on an individual and their families. Having overcome obstacles in her personal life, she is committed to improving the lives of others from similar backgrounds as her own, as well as serving marginalized populations and improving her community through advocacy.
One of her peers shared an insight into Dr. Cook’s advocacy work for young girls in the community, adding that “since 2020 [Dr. Cook] has been running a non-profit called GIRLSCLUB which is a group for girls with developmental and neurological differences. She initially started this group to encourage her autistic child to gain some meaningful relationships with peers, but the impact beyond this has been huge in the community.”
Dr. Cook plans to pursue additional PGY3 training in gender affirming care, addictions, and HIV. Once completed, she has hopes of setting up a longitudinal family practice in Kamloops while also practicing medicine with populations such as those experiencing addictions, homelessness, and HIV infection, as well as with individuals seeking gender affirming care.
R2 Resident Award: Dr. Robin CravenDr. Robin Craven is an R2 Resident completing training at the UBC Family Medicine Surrey South Fraser site and is described by her peers as a "trailblazer for UBC's family medicine residency as a whole." Dr. Craven "feels passionately about ensuring that under-served communities have well-matched physicians to care for them," and is "a tireless advocate for the value of family medicine."
During her 2-year Family Medicine Residency Program, Dr. Craven has served as the International Medical Graduates (IMG) Lead Resident, advocating for over 100 IMG residents across the province. Another peer notes how “[Dr. Craven] gives so much of her time outside of work to her co-residents across the provinces, and sacrifices so much for the betterment of the program. She truly influences change, and this has been seen not only at [Surrey South Fraser], but across the province.”
It was also highlighted that “through [Dr. Craven’s] own research, she brought to the attention of UBC and the Ministry of Health how other provinces provide more equitable opportunities for IMG and in order to attract more physicians to BC, significant changes need to be made.”
R2 Resident Award: Dr. Cassia TremblayDr. Cassia Tremblay is an R2 Resident training at the UBC Family Medicine Kootenay Boundary rural site and is described by one of her peers as "the doctor we all want to be and want to have care for us and our families." During her two year Family Medicine Residency Program, Dr. Tremblay has been actively involved in education and advocacy; volunteering as the UBC Family Medicine Lead Resident and championing the field of family medicine.
One of Dr. Tremblay’s peers also noted that she is a “positive, supportive, and mature leader who seeks to understand all perspectives in the course of her advocacy. She knows that by understanding the constraints that affect others, she is better able to collaborate, find common ground, and work towards a solution.”
Originally from Calgary, Dr. Tremblay completed her undergraduate degree at St. Francis Xavier University in Nova Scotia, and medical school at UBC’s Island Medical Program.
She currently sits on the UBC Postgraduate Education Committee, PGME Oversight Committee, and the Kootenay Boundary Site Resident Training Committee.
Dr. Tremblay plans on practising in the fields of mental health, addictions medicine, and longitudinal community practice in B.C. upon completing training this year.
Dr. Manoo and Jean Gurjar Award: Dr. Arielle RobertsDr. Arielle Roberts is a family medicine resident of the UBC Strathcona site situated on the unceded territory of the Ligwilda’xw Peoples, also known as Campbell River. She is described as "passionate about full-service family medicine as well as being a committed advocate and leader for her peers and the patients she cares for along the way."
At the UBC Island Medical Program, Dr. Roberts was the chair of the Family Medicine Interest Group and a strong wellness advocate for peers as Student Affairs representative. “Dr. Roberts’ commitment to resident resilience and wellness extends to her longstanding and ongoing research pursuits in the area of exercise,” says one nominator, “including publications and presentations between 2018 and 2021 on the topic of exercise in medical education.”
Dr. Roberts plans to fulfil her passion for practicing rural longitudinal family medicine, with another nominator adding that “in [their] 19 years in medical education, [they] have never seen anyone as committed to pursuing a career in family medicine.”
Dr. Manoo and Jean Gurjar Award: Dr. Nique SeperDr. Dominque (Nique) Seper is the Co-Site Lead Resident of UBC's Indigenous Family Practice Residency Program and is described as an "inspiration for her fellow residents in terms of social justice, anti-colonial and pro-Indigenous rights." Dr. Seper grew up on Treaty 7 Territory and Métis Nation of Alberta Region 3 in Cochrane, Alberta. After completing a Bachelor of Science in Biological Sciences at the University of Calgary, she completed medical school on Treaty 4 and 6 Territory at the University of Saskatchewan.
“Dr. Seper is consistently rated ‘exceeding expectations’ by preceptors and [members of the] community contact the site with praises of her ability to deliver trauma-informed, culturally-informed and healing-centred care in her work” writes one of her peers.
Taking time to help people on their journey, Dr. Seper supports others in “recogizing culture is important for the health and wellness of us as providers, as much as it is for patients.”
Dr. Seper, who is Métis on her mother’s side with roots in the St. Boniface and Ste. Anne Parishes of the Red River Valleys, is “well respected in the community and fully supported by the program Elders: Elder Roberta and Elder Jean.”
Upon finishing her residency, Dr. Seper plans to practise full scope family medicine and serving rural Indigenous communities in BC.
Medical Student Scholarship: Chenxi (Bessie) HeDr. Chenxi (Bessie) He grew up in Vancouver and completed both her undergraduate and medical degrees at UBC. She has been interested in pursuing Family Medicine since before medical school when she worked part time as an MOA at a local family practice for over 4 years.
She established long term relationships with those family doctors who eventually became her mentors and friends. She still keeps in contact with the same family practice and helps out every fall with flu vaccine clinics. Though she kept her options open during medical school, she has always been drawn back to the rewarding and diverse experiences of Family Medicine.
Bessie is very excited to have started her Family Medicine residency at the Vancouver Fraser site, and is currently acting as the Lead Medical Resident for her cohort. Outside of the clinic, Bessie enjoys doing the daily New York Times crossword, going to a boxing class, or walking along Locarno beach.
Medical Student Scholarship: Olivia YauOlivia is a current R1 at the UBC Vancouver Fraser Family Medicine program and a graduate of UBC's Vancouver Fraser Medical Program.
She previously completed a Masters in Experimental Medicine at Queen’s University where she optimized vascular ultrasound in the detection of atherosclerotic plaques using phantom models. With the onset of the pandemic, she adapted her research on artificial intelligence (AI) in Point-of-care ultrasound (POCUS) to COVID-19 as part of the UBC Data Science and Health (DASH) research cluster. From her work, Olivia recognized the role AI has in modern medicine and took on a leadership role at UBC’s AI in Medicine Student Society. At the same time, she was also a co-chair of the UBC Ultrasound club, and spearheaded the first ultrasound symposium in collaboration with the Family Medicine Interest Group (FMIG).
While AI and POCUS have traditionally been associated with subspecialties such as radiology or emergency medicine, Olivia saw potential for both to play a critical role in family medicine. She is currently planning to continue her work in the integration of POCUS and POCUS training into modern primary care throughout her residency. She remains in contact with the UBC ultrasound club and has an upcoming project looking into evaluating the efficacy of neer-peer tutors in improving the POCUS competency of medical learners. Her goal is to expand the role of POCUS and AI in modern family medicine while focusing her practice on preventative medicine with the help of these technologies.