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SMA presents second annual Leader of the Year awards to physician, resident, student (news release)

Oct. 30, 2020 – for immediate release

In recognition of integral role physicians play in the health system, the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) annually recognizes leaders in the medical community with three awards – one each for Physician, Resident and Student Leader of the Year.

The awards for 2020 were presented virtually Friday at the SMA’s 2020 Fall Representative Assembly in Saskatoon. The awards, which recognize outstanding achievement in leading Saskatchewan physicians, align with the SMA’s strategic priority to “grow effective physician leaders.” The awards are presented annually at the fall RA. Due to COVID-19 this year’s awards were presented via Webex with an in-person recognition planned at a later date, when it is safe to do so.

The recipients are:

  • Physician Leader of the Year for 2020: Dr. Veronica McKinney

  • Resident Leader of the Year Award for 2020: Dr. Emmett Harrison

  • Student Leader of the Year for 2020: Ms. Kate Morrison

“The SMA is honoured to present these leadership awards to Dr. Veronica McKinney, Dr. Emmett Harrison, and Ms. Kate Morrison - candidates who exemplify the best that the Saskatchewan medical community has to offer,” said Dr. Barb Konstantynowicz, SMA president. “Our winners have shown extraordinary leadership in their work to advance quality improvement, the well-being of their colleagues, and the timely and urgent pursuit of equitable health care and support for Saskatchewan’s Indigenous community. We are thrilled to celebrate their leadership thus far, and look forward to supporting them in their continued efforts to improve both health care for Saskatchewan’s diverse population, and the well-being of our medical community.”

SMA Physician Leader of the Year for 2020: Dr. Veronica McKinney

Dr. Veronica McKinney, Physician Leader of the Year, is the director of Northern Medical Services and a leader in Indigenous health, clinical care, advocacy, and education in Saskatchewan. She is of Cree/Métis descent and provides leadership in health development in northern Saskatchewan Indigenous communities.

As director of Northern Medical Services, Dr. McKinney collaborates with northern Saskatchewan communities, health organizations and multiple levels of government to support the vision of healthy communities, healthy families and healthy people.

She is an assistant professor and chair of the Indigenous Health Committee, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, and also serves on various boards and committees. As an educator she ensures her students receive training with a focus on culturally safe, trauma-informed care and anti-racism.

Dr. McKinney has been involved in a number of research projects geared at improving health and wellness for the Indigenous community including the use of remote presence technology, Indigenous birth experiences and integrating trauma-informed practice into primary care.

In her practice at the Westside Community Clinic, she can often be heard sharing a laugh with her patients, to whom she always gives her full attention. She is sought out for her non-judgmental approach to care by patients, many of whom are survivors of residential schools and who live with the ongoing impacts of colonization.

She believes strongly in her traditional cultural teachings and applies them to her practice of medicine. She is a strong advocate for Indigenous people’s health, having witnessed and experienced the inequities firsthand.

SMA Resident Leader of the Year Award for 2020: Dr. Emmett Harrison

Dr. Emmett Harrison, Resident Leader of the Year, is a family medicine resident in Swift Current.

Dr. Harrison has a deep-seated interest in quality improvement (QI), stemming from his high level perspective on health care that nominators note is rare for someone in such early stages of their medical career. He is involved in QI initiatives both locally and nationally including the Health Quality Council Primary Care Panel Report working group, where he worked to develop the second iteration of a QI tool that contributes to improved patient care based on analysis of patient panel data. He is also a member of a research steering committee overseeing a QI project aimed at improving patient care at a Swift Current medical clinic by encouraging data-driven interdisciplinary collaboration.

Improving primary care is another focus for Dr. Harrison and he has been passionately involved in bringing the Patient’s Medical Home vision to Saskatchewan. He has been a member of the Patient Medical Home committee for two years and is an advocate for this vision to medical students and his resident colleagues. Dr. Harrison is also a member of the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC) resident working group, where he contributes on rural advocacy initiatives.

Supporting his resident colleagues is also a priority for Dr. Harrison and he sat on the Resident Retreat organizing committee, which focused on easing the transition to practice. As part of this committee he organized a lecture series on practical topics relating to opening a medical practice. He is also the primary content creator for a rural resident support blog though the SRPC.

SMA Student Leader of the Year for 2020: Ms. Kate Morrison

Ms. Kate Morrison, Student Leader of the Year, is a fourth year medical student at the College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan.

Since the beginning of her medical career when she embarked on the U of S joint MD/MBA program, Ms. Morrison has been a passionate advocate for her fellow medical trainees. From her first year as a delegate to the Canadian Federation of Medical Students, to election as Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan president in year two, and service on a number of other committees in year three, she has demonstrated an exceptional ability to remove herself from a situation and truly understand and represent the needs and interests of her colleagues.

She was a primary player in bringing forward the Student Leadership Absence Policy which allows students to be excused from clinical duties to fulfill leadership responsibilities thereby enabling her colleagues to participate in leadership roles and create positive change.

When COVID-19 arrived in Saskatchewan, clerkship training ground to a halt, leaving many students feeling uncertain about their futures. In response, Ms. Morrison stepped up to chair the Medical Student Return to Clerkship Committee – a committee to represent the needs of medical students to the Undergraduate Medical Education (UGME) body as they collaboratively developed the most safe and appropriate plan.

As the pandemic set in, Ms. Morrison expanded her efforts into the Saskatchewan community at large, volunteering to assist with COVID-19 contact tracing. Most notably she was the lead fundraiser behind the hugely successful Supplies for La Loche campaign. The GoFundMe campaign raised more than $50,000 to help meet the needs of La Loche and the surrounding area when residents were hit particularly hard by COVID-19.

The Saskatchewan Medical Association ( is a voluntary, member-based, professional association for physicians, medical students and residents in the province and it is the provincial chapter of the Canadian Medical Association. As the trusted voice of Saskatchewan’s more than 2,400 practising physicians, the SMA negotiates for and on behalf of doctors; supports the educational, professional, economic and personal well-being of physicians; and advocates for a high-quality and patient-centred health-care system.

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Girard Hengen, Communications Advisor
306-230-2673 (cell)

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