Gender-affirming care, addiction treatment at the heart of work for inspiring winners of the Dr. Ian Bowmer Award for Leadership in Social Accountability
September 23, 2019
To honour Dr. Ian Bowmer’s retirement after 11 years as Executive Director of the Medical Council of Canada (MCC), the MCC sought to award a one-time Dr. Ian Bowmer Award for Leadership in Social Accountability at our 2019 Annual Meeting.
The MCC launched a call for nominations to Schools of Medicine across the country in the hopes of awarding $5,000 to one medical student and to one resident who had demonstrated leadership in social accountability. The MCC Selection Committee had their work cut out for them as we received 21 nominations from 12 schools, and all were equally impressive.
The Committee selected two award winners, a medical student from Alberta who advocated for training in gender-affirming care and a resident who improved addiction treatment services in Northern Ontario, based on their capacity to engage society with respect and forge a common vision through collaboration with stakeholders. The recipients for the Dr. Ian Bowmer award are Dr. Nicole Thompson and Dr. Lloyd Douglas, who received their awards at the MCC Annual Meeting in Ottawa in September.
Dr. Nicole Thompson
Dr. Nicole Thompson, who grew up in Edmonton, had been in medical school at the University of Calgary for just six months when she raised the issue of gender-affirming care during a course on how to conduct genital examinations on men and women.
“I put up my hand and asked, Do we ever learn about doing exams for non-cisgender people?” she recalls.
Her lecturer told her the class didn’t cover these exams, and suggested she look into the issue. Dr. Thompson then created four hours of curriculum content on gender-affirming care, all taught in partnership with the LGBQT+ community, which the University of Calgary has since implemented as a session in its Global Health unit.
Even prior to medical school, Dr. Thompson was advocating for gender-affirming care for her clients and while working in harm reduction clinics as an occupational therapist. Dr. Thompson is now working on a research study to create recommendations for gender-affirming standards for the curriculum at medical schools, and ways to combat potential bias and transphobia amongst medical students and doctors.
Gender-diverse people have higher rates of suicide, sexual assault, and homelessness, and overall poorer outcomes than people who identify with the genders they were assigned at birth, Dr. Thompson points out. These outcomes are what motivates her to improve care.
This is an opportunity to sit with other like-minded people at the dinner to talk about how we can influence the culture of medicine and the culture of society to promote inclusiveness.”
Dr. Nicole Thompson
Dr. Lloyd Douglas
Dr. Lloyd Douglas was the resident recipient of the Dr. Ian Bowmer Award for Leadership in Social Accountability. As a medical resident, Dr. Douglas was promoting inclusivity through better healthcare for Indigenous residents of Northern Ontario, and particularly addiction treatment.
Dr. Douglas, who has since finished his residency, was nominated for the award because of his work in the Public Health and Preventive Medicine Residency Program at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.
After completing an elective in addictions medicine, he revitalized the addictions program at the Sioux Lookout Meno Ya Win Health Centre by providing a medical approach that included consultations and treatment with suboxone and buprenorphine-naloxone for patients with opioid addictions. He was the first doctor in the area to use depot-naltrexone for complex cases of alcoholism and is gratified to see its use growing in the region following his advocacy. He also trained a nurse practitioner to provide services when he had to leave the community temporarily to complete his residency training.
The difference in people once they have received a drug to help with their cravings is incredible, says Dr. Douglas. “It’s not bullet-proof, but it does help,” he says.
“When you see someone who is on a maintenance use of suboxone and they are getting back their kids, it is so rewarding. The biggest thing is breaking down the stigma and saying, ‘I get it — we’re all addicted to something’. I can’t get enough of helping people like that.”
Growing up in Jamaica as part of a close extended family, he did not realize how disconnected he was from his own history, he says. Providing care for the people on the 33 First Nations that the Sioux Lookout region serves has been a real honour, Dr. Douglas says.
“Somehow, I find my identity — bits and pieces of myself — in them,” he says. “These are my people. They are helping me. Their stories enrich my own life.”
Receiving the Dr. Ian Bowmer Award for Leadership in Social Accountability has boosted Douglas’ self-confidence, as he pursues a career in public health and addictions medicine in Sioux Lookout, Ontario.
This just confirms where I should be and who I should be working with: Indigenous peoples, for Indigenous peoples. I want them to be my boss.”
Dr. Lloyd Douglas
PHOTO (from left to right):
Dr. Jay Rosenfield, Dr. Ian Bowmer, Dr. Nicole Thompson,
Dr. Lloyd Douglas, Dr. Maureen Topps