He’s humble about his achievements, but the recognition is well deserved. Dr. Roy Kirkpatrick—whose 30-plus-year career includes foreign service in Pakistan, Haiti and New Guinea, locum service in Iqaluit, and a position as Associate Professor in the Department of Surgery of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) in addition to his general surgery duties at Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare’s hospitals—will receive the 2018 Ontario Medical Association (OMA) Section Service Award for General Surgery.
He was nominated by the OMA Section on General Surgery and the Ontario Association of General Surgeons (OAGS).
“It’s humbling to be recognized by one’s peers,” he said, adding that he made a commitment to himself when he decided to be a doctor to help in places where there was a need. “Frankly there are lots of other doctors who do a whole lot more international work. My contribution to the global context is minuscule when compared to many but there are lots of people who don’t have the opportunity at all.” (Read an earlier Doppler story on Dr. Kirkpatrick’s work overseas here.)
Dr. Kirkpatrick gives kudos to his colleagues Dr. Ken Foster who used to work in Huntsville and is now in Parry Sound and who spent 18 years working in Afghanistan, and Dr. Greg Stewart who spent seven years working in Guatemala.
“(Dr. Kirkpatrick) also plays an integral role in planning and advising how the surgical education for tomorrow’s General Surgeons is facilitated, not only on a local and provincial level, but also on a national level,” noted the OMA announcement of the award. “In fact, he has been involved as one of (NOSM’s) community surgeon instructors almost since the inception of the program itself.”
Dr. Kirkpatrick has been appointed to the Specialty Education Committee and Regional Advisory Council with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada, acts as an Independent Assessor for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario, and as a NOSM General Surgery Resident Program Committee member. He also assists the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) in reviewing General Surgery applications.
He said the role NOSM plays “is really unique in Canada and possibly even in the world… right in their mission statement they talk about social accountability, they talk about serving populations in rural and remote areas, and with special attention to Indigenous people and Francophones. You can say all that in your mission statement but you’ve really got to walk the talk.”
And it’s working, he said. “Of NOSM graduates who stuck around also for their post-graduate training, 94 per cent have stayed in the north. NOSM is a wonderful idea, for which none of us in Huntsville can take credit, to try and redress the inequities in healthcare delivery from urban centres in the south to northern communities. And probably Thunder Bay and Sudbury gain disproportionately but there are family doctors who finish the program who go to tiny communities and make a real commitment to bettering the health outcomes of people in all these tiny little places. So it’s a big deal and working.”
And again, he highlighted the achievements of his colleagues. At a recent NOSM Faculty Development Conference, “they had an awards ceremony and Huntsville cleaned up.” His fellow surgeon Dr. Hector Roldan was promoted to associate professor, and Dr. David McLinden received two awards, as the academic leader in the education and scholarship category, and a leadership award from the Physician Clinical Teachers’ Association.
“If any one person in Huntsville deserves a disproportionate amount of credit for how NOSM is doing, it’s (Dr. McLinden),” said Dr. Kirkpatrick. “He’s taken the lead in organizing medical students who come, and for organizing the group that provides funding for teaching activities and research activities, he lectures at the medical school. He’s just an all around good guy and nobody could deserve it more.”
But no matter how much he attempts to deflect praise, there’s no doubt that Dr. Kirkpatrick’s contributions to the medical community in Muskoka and beyond have been significant.
It can’t last forever, however, and as Dr. Kirkpatrick approaches retirement, MAHC is welcoming Dr. Tony Yang as its newest general surgeon and his wife Dr. Deborah Leung as an emergency physician. They will arrive in late May. “So whenever it is that I call it a day, there will be guaranteed continuity. And he’s just a great guy, I am very impressed with Dr. Yang.”
Dr. Kirkpatrick will receive the OMA Section Service Award for General Surgery at the 24th OAGS Annual Meeting in Toronto on November 3.
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