Almost 600 people took the time to nominate family physicians from across the province – another record-breaking year! We heard stories of gratitude, compassion, kindness, advocacy, education and community engagement.

While they were all individual experiences, they all had one thing in common: unwavering support for patients and the specialty of family medicine.

Thank you to each and every nominator and to all the family physicians who continue to have a profound impact on the health and well-being of British Columbian residents. Please join us in celebrating this year’s BCCFP Award Recipients!

  • BC Family Physician of the Year: Dr. Laura Phillips

    Dr. Laura Phillips, an exemplary family physician based in Victoria, has, in the words of one her nominators, "lead by example and demonstrated outstanding leadership and advocacy skills while being a role model for all whom she interacts with." Graduating from UBC in 2001 and completing her Family Medicine residency in Victoria, Dr. Phillips embarked on a journey of service that has positively impacted her patients, colleagues and communities.

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    For over a decade, Dr. Phillips has been a “stalwart member of the medical community in Victoria”, co-chairing the Care Transitions Committee with the Victoria Division of Family Practice. Through this pivotal role, she has tirelessly collaborated with health authorities and fellow physicians to bridge the gaps in patient care, navigating the complexities of the medical system with grace and determination.

    “Laura is a humble person,” says another of her nominators, “and does not advertise all the work that she does for others, but you don’t have to look very far in our community to find Laura behind many of the changes for the better that our community has experienced.”

    Her profound love for Family Medicine radiates through every aspect of her work. Despite the challenges, Dr. Phillips finds joy in nurturing enduring relationships with her patients, offering support in their journey to better health, and providing comfort even in the face of adversity.

    Dr. Phillip’s impact extends far beyond her clinical practice. Her peers and patients alike recognize her as a paragon of humility, compassion, and advocacy. As one nomination aptly states, “She is greatly appreciated by her patients. She shows compassion and advocates for them on an individual basis as part of her day, every day.”

    Beyond her many professional endeavors, Dr. Phillips finds solace in family and hobbies. Married for over 25 years with two young-adult children, she enjoys cycling, rock climbing, reading – and indulging in her love for chocolate! Dr. Phillips “speaks from the heart,” says her nominator, “and always manages to bring people together to work towards a common cause.”

  • First Five Years of Practice Award: Dr. Charmaine Ma

    Dr. Charmaine Ma is a beacon of compassionate care, medical education, and community advocacy within the realm of family medicine, with one nominator stating that “the reach of [Dr. Ma’s] impact is far and wide - as a physician she provides exceptional care, as an educator she inspires new learners and brings the community to a higher knowledge space, and as leader she continues to innovate and bring enthusiasm to our health system.”

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    Initially graduating with a degree in Pharmacy from UBC, Dr. Ma ventured into the health care landscape with a desire to make a tangible difference in people’s lives. Following her residency at St. Paul’s Hospital, she found her calling in family medicine – drawn by its capacity for preventative care and the opportunity to cultivate enduring relationships with patients across diverse life stages. Another nominator said that “to her patients, Dr. Ma is a deeply devoted, positive, understanding and empathetic advocate who listens and explains patiently.”

    Dr. Ma’s impact extends beyond medical intervention, as she instills hope and confidence in her patients. “The joy that Charmaine shares when she sees a patient recovering, and the ‘above-and-beyond’ dedication she puts into helping her patients achieve wellness, is evident to all who work with her and are under her care.”

    One of Dr. Ma’s peers describes her efforts in integrating family medicine into specialized fertility care and education as “pioneering”.

    Driven by a passion for medical education, Dr. Ma has devoted herself to shaping the future of health care through teaching and mentorship. This is demonstrated through her involvement in initiatives such as the National Guidelines for Dementia, where she championed a tailored version for the Black and Chinese communities.

    Dr. Ma’s impact reaches out with medicine and into broader society. In addition to her clinical practice and educational endeavors, Dr. Ma’s philanthropic spirit shines through her extensive community engagement and advocacy efforts. Fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin, she bridges cultural and linguistic divides, empowering immigrant families to navigate the healthcare system with confidence and clarity.

  • First Five Years of Practice Award: Dr. Christie Chan

    Dr. Christie Chan is a dedicated family physician whose commitment to improving healthcare access and systems has earned her recognition and accolades within the medical community. One nominator noted that "in [their] two decades as a family physician, [they] have not worked with anyone more deserving of this award."

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    A graduate of UBC for both her undergraduate and medical school education, Dr. Chan furthered her training at Dalhousie University for residency, where her passion for family medicine and rural health care flourished.

    With an unwavering dedication to her patients, Dr. Chan finds fulfillment in being a constant support through life’s challenges and triumphs. Her genuine care and empathy resonate with those she serves as she continues to “support [Nisga’a Valley’s] citizens [to access] the equitable health care they deserve.”

    Dr. Chan’s impact extends beyond the confines of her clinic walls. As the Medical Director at Nisga’a Valley Health Authority (NVHA), she leads with vision and compassion, “spearheading initiatives to enhance healthcare services in the Nisga’a Valley.”

    Dr. Chan also serves as an alternate member on the Joint Standing Committee (JSC) on rural issues with Doctors of BC, advocating tirelessly for improved working conditions and health care access for rural physicians and patients alike.

    Through her community-building efforts and mentorship, Dr. Chan has fostered a supportive environment for healthcare professionals, contributing to the growth and stability of the health care workforce in the Nisga’a Valley. Another nominator states that Dr. Chan’s dedication to equitable healthcare has “transformed the landscape of the region, attracting visiting specialists and allied care professionals who were previously absent.”

    Her tireless advocacy and leadership skills have not gone unnoticed. Colleagues commend her for her ability to navigate systemic barriers, negotiate contracts, and revitalize health care institutions. Dr. Chan’s remarkable achievements at such an early stage in her career are a “testament to her exceptional abilities” and unwavering commitment to her patients and community.

  • My Family Doctor Award: Dr. Jessica Zimbler - Prince George

    Practising in Prince George for over 15 years as a full-service family physician, Dr. Jessica Zimbler is an “an unwavering source of support and guidance” for her patients who one of her nominators describes as “embodying extraordinary dedication, compassion, and expertise”. Dr. Zimbler's journey began with a medical degree from McGill University in Quebec, followed by residency training with UBC, where she honed her skills and passion for providing comprehensive care to her patients.

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    Her commitment to excellence is shown through the full scope of her practice, encompassing general office practice, obstetrical care, inpatient hospital care, long-term care, palliative care, and surgical assists.

    One nominator describes the breadth of Dr. Zimbler’s care: “I had been a patient of Dr. Zimbler’s for a few years but spent a lot more time with her recently as I navigated through a high-risk pregnancy. Following the birth of my baby, who was medically complex, Dr. Zimbler seamlessly transitioned into a pivotal role in managing my child’s care. What sets Dr. Zimbler apart is her ability to instill a sense of empowerment within her patients and their families.”

    Another nominator states, “Dr. Zimbler goes above and beyond to ensure that my family can access all the support available. Whether it’s tirelessly filling out endless forms or liaising with various healthcare professionals, she consistently demonstrates her commitment to alleviating the burdens that often accompany managing a complex condition.”

    Beyond her clinical duties, Dr. Zimbler plays a pivotal role as the Clinical Skills Course Director in Years 1 and 2 for the Northern Medical Program, along with her position as a Clinical Assistant Professor with the UBC Faculty of Medicine.

    Dr. Zimbler finds solace in nature, indulging in cross-country skiing, mountain biking, and cherishing time spent with loved ones at the lake. Her holistic approach to life mirrors her approach to patient care, emphasizing the importance of balance and well-being.

    In the words of one patient, “having Dr. Zimbler as my family doctor is invaluable, and I am deeply grateful for her unwavering support and guidance.”

  • My Family Doctor Award: Dr. Alison MacInnes - Vancouver

    Dr. Alison MacInnes is a distinguished family physician with over 25 years of dedicated service in Vancouver, who, according to one of her nominators, “makes the world a better place…one patient encounter at a time.” A graduate of UBC Medical School in 1997, Dr. MacInnes went on to complete her Family Practice residency in Montreal, honing her skills and expertise in providing “comprehensive care across the life span.”

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    Dr. MacInnes’ passion for maternity care led her to assume the role of Medical Lead for low-risk obstetrics and postpartum care at BC Women’s Hospital, where she continues to make a profound impact on the lives of patients and their newborns.

    Dr. MacInnes’s patients attest to her ability to create a positive and welcoming environment, where they feel heard, valued, and supported in their healthcare journey: “Immediately on entering into the care space, she has the ability to her patients at ease, as if she has ‘all the time in the world’ listening ‘beyond the stethoscope’…she invites you to tell your story, enters into your world to hear the context of you care needs and skillfully, swiftly and calmly offers a suggested plan of care. Patience for her patients.”

    Beyond her professional achievements, Dr. MacInnes is a devoted mother of two daughters, aged 19 and 20. Driven by her love for travel and exploration, she seizes every opportunity to immerse herself in new cultures and experiences, thanks to the support of her reliable locum physician.

    Dr. MacInnes’s dedication is reflected in the heartfelt testimonials from those she has cared for: “Dr. MacInnes is honest and has her patients interests at heart…and is not afraid to explain to her patients how the system works or does not and, working together, finds the best solution.”

  • My Family Doctor Award: Dr. Moa Sugimoto - Lumby

    Dr. Moa Sugimoto is a Vernon-based family physician who “goes above and beyond to take care of her community members” in the village of Lumby. Dr. Sugimoto graduated from Yokohama City University Medical School in Japan and pursued further training in general internal medicine at prestigious institutions in Japan, before venturing to Canada to explore clinical epidemiology at UBC. It was during her time there that Dr. Sugimoto recognized her calling to serve the Canadian population as a family physician.

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    Dr. Sugimoto’s residency at St. Paul’s Hospital International Medical Graduate (IMG) program was marked by exceptional performance, earning her the 2020 Certificate of Excellence in Overall Performance and the Lloyd Jones Collins Research Award.

    Dr. Sugimoto’s Lumby practice extends beyond the confines of a traditional clinic setting, as she serves as the Director Physician of Bethelmed Clinic, an online walk-in clinic supporting underserved Japanese-speaking residents of British Columbia.

    As a testament to her passion for medical education and mentorship, Dr. Sugimoto actively engages in teaching medical students as a clinical instructor at UBC and the Curriculum Site Faculty Lead of the North Okanagan Family Practice Residency Program, nurturing the next generation of family physicians.

    In the words of her patients, Dr. Sugimoto takes the time to explain health issues “in plain language, ensuring understanding and empowerment among her patients.”

    Outside of medicine, Dr. Sugimoto finds joy in her roles as a mother of two and a devoted spouse. “Kindness, thoroughness, intelligence, empathy and availability – if only all British Columbians could be as fortunate as we are to have Dr. Sugimoto in our community.”

  • My Family Doctor Award: Dr. Pravjot Nijjar - Burnaby

    Dr. Pravjot Nijjar is a family physician who, according to one of her nominators, has “profound impact” on her patients through “exceptional care and dedication.” Born in India and raised in Abbotsford, BC, Dr. Nijjar embarked on her family medicine journey following completion of residency training in Chilliwack.

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    Dr. Nijjar began practising in Duncan, Vancouver Island, where she provided comprehensive medical care; encompassing long-term care, inpatient care, obstetrics, and participation in the sexual assault response team. In 2003, Dr. Nijjar moved to Burnaby, focusing on office-based care, where her passion for family medicine flourished.

    Dr. Nijjar’s impact extends far beyond clinical expertise. Patients laud her compassionate approach, which fosters an environment where individuals feel genuinely heard, understood, and cared for. As one patient remarked, “Dr. Nijjar embodies the very essence of compassion.” This sentiment is echoed by many, who attest to Dr. Nijjar’s unwavering dedication to addressing both physical concerns and emotional well-being.

    In addition to her compassionate demeanor, Dr. Nijjar is recognized for her ability to “integrate new findings and treatments into our care plans,” which one nominator describes as having ”provided me and my family with the best possible outcomes.”

    Outside of family medicine, Dr. Nijjar finds fulfillment as a proud mother and with a supportive life partner. She credits her parents for instilling a strong work ethic and teaching her to challenge barriers based on gender and minority status.

  • My Family Doctor Award: Dr. Jonathan Kerr - Comox

    Based in Comox, Vancouver Island, Dr. Jonathan Kerr is described as “the epitome of a fantastic family physician” by his patients. Dr. Kerr demonstrates unwavering dedication to family medicine and community well-being and is a tenacious advocate for positive change.

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    As Chair of the Comox Valley Family Physician Recruitment and Retention Task Force, Dr. Kerr has spearheaded efforts that resulted in the recruitment of 44 family physicians and eight nurse practitioners to the region over the past three years, with patients noting how “extremely grateful” they are for improved accessibility.

    At the heart of Dr. Kerr’s practice lies an unwavering commitment to patient-centered care. His patients laud him as a compassionate listener, a meticulous caregiver, and a steadfast ally in their journey toward wellness. With each appointment, Dr. Kerr “truly listens” and “strives to bring a positive outcome in all situations.”

    Prior to practising in BC, Dr. Kerr was President of the Ontario College of Family Physicians, where he represented over 13,000 family doctors in the province. Additionally, his service on the Board of the College of Family Physicians of Canada and as the Primary Care Lead for the South East Local Health Integration Network in Ontario underscores his commitment to advancing health care on both a local and national scale.

    Elected to Comox Town Council in a 2021 by-election and subsequently re-elected in 2022, Dr. Kerr plays an integral role in shaping local governance and policy, amplifying the voices of residents and championing initiatives aimed at fostering inclusive and sustainable communities.

    Driven by a passion for continuous improvement, Dr. Kerr embraces each day as an opportunity for growth and self-reflection. Whether as a father, husband, doctor, elected official, athlete, or community member, he remains steadfast in his pursuit of excellence, embodying the ethos of a lifelong learner.

    As one of Dr. Kerr’s nominators states, Dr. Kerr “truly stands out in his profession.”

  • R2 Resident Award: Dr. Olivia Anglin

    Dr. Olivia Anglin is currently an R2 Resident at UBC Family Medicine Victoria Site and is described by her nominators as having “love and commitment to community-based family medicine.” Dr. Anglin exemplifies the values of compassionate care, community advocacy, and unwavering commitment to her patients and “stands out as one of the most well-respected residents.”

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    Born, raised, and educated in Victoria, BC, Dr. Anglin’s journey into medicine began with an undergraduate degree in Anthropology at the University of Victoria, followed by her medical training at the Island Medical Program. It was during this time that she discovered her passion for family medicine—a field she describes as diverse, challenging, and “a natural fit.”

    Dr. Anglin’s impact extends far beyond her clinical duties, as evidenced by the heartfelt nominations from her colleagues and mentors, with one noting that “from the moment she started at our clinic in 2022, Dr. Anglin has been an integral member of our multidisciplinary team.” With another expressing that “from her first days working with me, I knew she was special.”

    Dr. Anglin’s commitment to patient care is evident in her willingness to follow patients longitudinally, understanding the profound importance of the doctor-patient relationship in family medicine. “We have patients who will specifically request to book back when she is in clinic” says her nominator, “as they feel cared for by her warm and empathic nature.”

    “I would be pleased to have one of my family members be under her care in the future.”

  • R2 Resident Award: Dr. David Luu

    Dr. David Luu, an R2 Resident at the UBC Family Medicine Surrey-South Fraser site, is “a leader among his peers and a champion for family medicine” in the words of one nominator. With an unwavering dedication to positively influence change, Dr. Luu has earned recognition among his peers and mentors.

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    Born and raised in Port Coquitlam, Dr. Luu embarked on his journey in medicine driven by a desire to serve his community. His academic pursuits led him to complete his undergraduate degree at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and medical school at the University of Saskatchewan, where his passion for family medicine flourished.

    As a Co-Lead Resident of the Surrey-South Fraser site, he consistently surpasses expectations, earning accolades from both current and former Site Directors. One colleague remarked, “David is genuinely a leader who influences change through hard work and exceptional contributions and communication.”

    Dr. Luu’s commitment to resident support and wellness is evident year-round, as he actively promotes a culture of resilience and camaraderie within the program. As noted by one mentor, “Regardless of whether or not he is involved with our program, I have no doubt that he will be a leader in Family Medicine wherever he practices.”

    Dr. Luu’s role on the UBC Family Practice Behavioral Medicine and Wellness Committee underscores his commitment to holistic patient care and physician well-being.

    Reflecting on his impact, another mentor expressed, “Dr. Luu is the best resident I have ever worked with in my decades of teaching. He sets the standard for what a resident physician should be with his smile, teamwork, respectful attitude, and willingness to learn.”

  • R2 Resident Award: Dr. Haley Smith

    Dr. Haley Smith is an R2 Resident currently undergoing training at the UBC Family Practice St. Paul’s site, with one of her nominators stating that they “have not seen a resident of her passion and ability in leadership and medical education for some time.” Born and raised in North Vancouver, Dr. Smith completed her undergraduate degree in Chemistry at New York University’s campus in Abu Dhabi. It was during this time that her passion for medicine began to flourish, leading her to UBC’s Vancouver Fraser Medical Program.

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    Driven by a desire to foster enduring connections with patients and to provide support through every phase of their health journey, Dr. Smith chose family medicine as her specialty – with a particular interest in the care of the elderly and women’s health.

    Her nomination for the prestigious Peter Grantham Resident Award underscores her excellence in teaching, with one nominator stating that Dr. Smith’s dedication to medical education and patient care “will benefit medical trainees interested in family medicine for years to come.”

    Dr. Smith’s approach to patient care is characterized by kindness, thoughtfulness, and excellent communication skills. Another nominator states that “from the beginning, I have appreciated Haley’s approach to carefully gather important details during patient encounters and proceed to perform a relevant physical examination in a thoughtful manner.”

  • Dr. Manoo and Jean Gurjar Award: Dr. Celine McCaughran-Contreras

    Dr. Celine McCaughran-Contreras, currently in her second year at the UBC Family Medicine St. Paul’s site, “has consistently exhibited leadership in the areas of social justice in medicine and diversity in medicine." Raised and trained on the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish nations, her career in medicine has been deeply rooted in health equity and community.

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    Having completed her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology and medical education at UBC, Dr. McCaughran-Contreras decision to pursue residency in her hometown reflects her dedication to maintaining close community ties while providing a nurturing environment for her family.

    Reflecting on their time with Dr. McCaughran-Contreras, a nominator says, “one thing that has not changed through these past six years is her unwavering interest and determination to improve the lives of those facing inequities.”

    Dr. McCaughran-Contreras’ placement at clinics such as the Vancouver Aboriginal Health Society and the John Reudy Clinic further demonstrates this. “Her drive to make change where change is needed is evident in the work that she has done and that she continues to do,” says another nominator.

    Dr. McCaughran-Contreras’ has become known for her trauma-informed and patient-centered approach, with one nominator stating that their patients “truly enjoy seeing [Dr. McCaughran-Contreras] and countless times they comment on her warmth, thoroughness and medical knowledge.” Her involvement with Girls Who LEAP and OUTreach highlights her commitment to empowering marginalized youth and fostering queer mentorship opportunities within the medical field.

    In the words of her nominator, “Dr. McCaughran-Contreras exemplifies the qualities and experiences that truly define the meaning of Family Medicine. She is a social justice leader and at times I have found myself looking to her to guide my moral compass.”

  • Dr. Manoo and Jean Gurjar Award: Dr. Erin Slade

    Dr. Erin Slade, hailing from Kamloops, BC, “exemplifies the qualities outlined for the R2 Award, demonstrating an unwavering dedication to the field [of family medicine] and a profound appreciation for its principles.” After completing her BSc. in Biology, Dr. Slade ventured to Ontario for her MSc. in global health, eventually returning to British Columbia for medical school and residency in Prince George, specializing in rural family medicine.

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    Driven by a passion for public health and a thirst for adventure, Dr. Slade’s career has taken her to the far corners of the globe. From managing plague outbreaks in Madagascar using innovative drone technology to conducting drug-resistant tuberculosis surveillance in India, she has had an inspiring impact in the field of global health.

    Another nominator notes that Dr. Slade’s “extensive research projects, both locally and internationally, demonstrate her dedication to promoting mental health awareness and developing culturally-appropriate interventions.”

    Her dedication to underserved communities extends beyond borders, with endeavors such as mobile cervical cancer screening in East African refugee encampments and health policy advocacy with Indigenous communities through the First Nations Health Authority (FNHA) in BC.

    “Throughout her training, she actively sought out opportunities in rural and Indigenous settings,” says her nominator, “recognizing the importance of providing care in underserved areas.” Dr. Slade also demonstrated strong advocacy around universal access to contraception in BC.

    As a physician, Dr. Slade “consistently champions initiatives that prioritize the well-being of marginalized and vulnerable populations” and is poised to make a significant impact in full-scope family medicine, with a focus on public health, acute care, remote medicine, and medical education.