Nov. 4, 2023

Dr. Nawal Sharma of Saskatoon honoured as 2023 SMA Physician of the Year

Dr. Nawal Sharma recalls his humble beginnings when reflecting on his selection as the Saskatchewan Medical Association’s (SMA) 2023 Physician of the Year.

“I left India in 1973 at the age of 24 because of circumstances which were beyond my control,” he said. “I carried with me a one-month clinical attachment in England, a one-way ticket to England, and five pounds in my pocket, which was borrowed from a friend. However, the most valuable assets that I carried with me were my character, ethics, and values, which I had inherited from my parents and family. These have not left me throughout my life.”

Dr. Sharma is a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Saskatchewan and has practised as a general internist in Saskatoon since 1984. He received the 2023 Physician of the Year award during a ceremony Friday, Nov. 3, in Saskatoon held in conjunction with the SMA’s 2023 Fall Representative Assembly.

The SMA also recognized outstanding achievement in leading Saskatchewan’s medical community by presenting three leadership awards on Friday. The recipients are:

2023 SMA Physician Leader of the Year: Dr. Jon Witt
2023 SMA Resident Leader of the Year: Dr. Angela Silveira
2023 SMA Student Leader of the Year: Nina Wingate

The SMA also presented the inaugural SMA Service Award, which recognizes contributions to the SMA on committees, the board or in other activities that support the SMA and its mission. The recipient is Dr. Guruswamy Sridhar.

‘My professional experience has been beyond my expectations and words’: Dr. Nawal Sharma

“It was a great surprise to learn that I had been selected for this award by the SMA,” Dr. Sharma said on receiving the Physician of the Year Award. “I have served as an internist in Saskatoon for nearly 40 years. This has been a wonderful experience. I am most grateful for the opportunity to serve the province of Saskatchewan. My professional experience has been beyond my expectations and words.”

Dr. Sharma considers the highlights of his career to be teaching opportunities, providing the best possible patient care, serving 18 years as Chief of Medicine at Saskatoon City Hospital and five years as acting Clinical Head of the Department of Medicine for the Saskatoon Health Region, participating in research projects, and serving on administrative committees in the hospital.

One of Dr. Sharma’s nominators recalls their first interactions during the first year of medical school in 2008. “I shadowed closely with Dr. Sharma seeing patients in the emergency department and I was in awe of his breadth of medical knowledge, calm composure, and compassion. This was an amazing first exposure to how a physician should care for their patients that has never left me.

“It is inspiring as a young physician to look to someone like Dr. Sharma who has devoted his life to the people of Saskatchewan,” the nominator continued. “He has served them for many decades and treated countless patients and helped grow hundreds of physicians. His values of compassion, hard work, and pursuit of knowledge and excellence are steadfast and have never wavered. He is a role model for all medical practitioners and has been a cherished support throughout my many years of medical training and again as an attending physician.”

One nominator has known Dr. Sharma as a trusted colleague, friend, and personal physician since Dr. Sharma came to Saskatoon. Dr. Sharma consulted on hundreds of the nominator’s patients, “providing knowledgeable, compassionate, and trusting care.”

“He could be seen in the hospital from early morning to late at night with a reassuring smile and calm manner. He is a skilled clinician and deserves recognition for the years he has served the health care system by taking on challenges of medical administration. He was unafraid to stand up for
good patient care when he felt changes in the provision of health care were detrimental to quality care.”

Dr. Sharma thanks the support he has received from his family, his students, and his colleagues, which have sustained him over the years.

“I have been fortunate to have been married to Leela, who has helped me and supported me for more than 50 years. For that I am ever so grateful,” he said, adding their three children – all physicians – and six grandchildren are their greatest joys.

“I have been well rewarded for my contributions in the form of teaching awards and appreciation letters, some of which I have kept in a box that is now overflowing. I read these letters when my spirits are down. This sums up my life’s journey so far and I offer my greatest gratitude and highest regards to all those who have helped me so far in my life’s journey.”

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