Nov. 4, 2023

SMA honours physician, resident, and student with 2023 leadership awards

The Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) recognized outstanding achievement in leading the province’s medical community by presenting three leadership awards Friday during its 2023 Fall Representative Assembly.

The SMA annually presents Physician, Resident and Student Leader of the Year awards at the Fall RA, which is being held today and Saturday in Saskatoon. The recipients are:

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

Dr. Jon Witt – 2023 Physician Leader of the Year

Dr. Jon Witt is humbled and honored to receive the 2023 SMA Physician Leader of the Year Award.

“We all know the dedication, passion, and sheer hard work that every single physician in this province pours into serving the people of Saskatchewan,” he said. “To be singled out among such a group is truly overwhelming.”

Dr. Witt thanked the colleagues he has worked alongside – “the mentors who have guided me, the peers who have supported me, and the young physicians who have inspired me with their fresh perspectives and passion.

“I have always believed that medicine isn’t just a profession, but a calling,” he continued. “We’ve been through long shifts, challenging cases, and moments of deep reflection about our responsibilities and the impact we have on the lives of our patients. It is in those moments that I’ve drawn strength from all of you, and it is for those reasons that I see this award not just as a personal achievement, but a collective one.”

“Saskatchewan is fortunate to have Dr. Jon Witt,” a group of nominators write. “As an emergency physician, former director at Saskatchewan Air Ambulance, a transport physician with STARS, trauma team leader and a pandemic lead, he has built, worked with and developed teams who have provided care to thousands of patients across the province.”

Dr. Witt has also been program director of the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment (SIPPA) program since 2014, his nominators note. He leads a team of faculty, staff and physician assessors who have been instrumental in ensuring underserved populations in rural Saskatchewan have the family physician resources they need, and that internationally trained physicians with appropriate clinical skills and knowledge can be licensed and provide care. He is Chair of the Medical Council of Canada’s National Assessment Collaboration on Practice Ready Assessment, a position of national influence and impact.

Dr. Witt is committed to improving Indigenous and rural health care. He supports rural physicians and coordinates patient transfers with STARS and Saskatchewan Air Ambulance. During the pandemic he volunteered for clinical work in southern Saskatchewan while serving as Team Lead of the Interprovincial COVID ICU Transfer Task Team, and was a Pandemic Area Chief of Staff.

“One of the impressive aspects of Dr. Witt’s leadership is his ability to motivate a team to tackle large projects, moving toward desired outcomes that will benefit citizens of this province, while at the same time valuing relationships, individual well-being and professional growth,” his nominators write. “He is a change-maker but not one who plows ahead without consideration of the people behind the change.

“Dr. Witt has the right combination of resolve and humility and a unique ability to bring together a group of people to work toward a common goal, doing so in a way that is energizing and motivating. Without hesitation, we nominate Dr. Jon Witt for this award, which we truly believe he deserves.”

Dr. Witt says he is touched by the recognition, “but more than the award, I cherish the journey, the bonds formed, the lessons learned, and the countless lives we’ve touched together. I’ve been inspired by the innovative strides we’ve taken in Saskatchewan, constantly pushing boundaries, advocating for our patients, and ensuring that they receive the highest standard of care. But we also know that health care is ever-evolving. The challenges we face today might be different from those of yesterday, but with our combined effort, I have no doubt we will continue to adapt and excel.”

Dr. Angela Silveira – 2023 Resident Leader of the Year

Dr. Angela Silveira accepts the 2023 SMA Resident Leader of the Year Award “with humility and a renewed determination to make a meaningful difference.”

“I reflect on the challenges I’ve faced, the lessons I’ve learned, and the growth that has occurred,” she said. “This award is not just a symbol of past accomplishments; it is a beacon guiding me toward future opportunities and responsibilities. I pledge to uphold the values that this award represents and to continue contributing to the betterment of my profession and community.”

Dr. Silveira is a public health and preventive medicine resident at the University of Saskatchewan in her fourth year of training. She has attained global expertise in the United States, Canada, India, and South Africa. Her passion lies in providing care to vulnerable communities and strengthening health care systems through quality improvement. She is deeply committed to integrating social determinants into health care access through innovative measures, such as policy implementation and strategic planning, to improve health equity in communities and underserved populations in Saskatchewan.

“I want to extend my deepest appreciation to everyone who has been a part of my journey, for without your unwavering support and encouragement, this achievement would not have been possible. I also want to express my heartfelt gratitude to the award committee for their belief in my potential and the chance to be part of such an esteemed group of individuals who have received this honour.”

Dr. Silveira attained a master’s in public health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and graduated with certificates in Global Health, Humanitarian Assistance and Gerontology and a diploma in Tropical Medicine and Hygiene from The London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene. She co-founded the first national public health mentorship program for residents and medical students in Canada. In addition to her current position as co-chair of Public Health Physicians of Canada, she is a program lead for Resident Doctors of Saskatchewan.

“As a senior resident, Angela’s impact on the field of medicine has been profound, characterized by her involvement in curriculum development, leadership, advocacy, and teaching right here in Saskatchewan,” one of her nominators writes. “Beyond her professional accomplishments, her empathy, kindness, integrity, and honesty render her a highly deserving candidate for this prestigious recognition.”

“One of the most inspiring aspects of Dr. Silveira’s journey is her remarkable leadership skills,” another nominator writes. “Among her fellow residents, she stands as a shining example of a leader who not only excels in medical knowledge but also fosters an environment of collaboration and mutual growth.”

Nominators also pointed to Dr. Silveira’s position as Co-Chair of the Public Health Physicians of Canada Resident’s Council. “Her engagement extends to residents and faculty from diverse programs across the nation, fostering essential conversations and addressing challenges within the profession. Her impactful contributions include publications and presentations at national and global conferences, a testament to her dedication to advancing the field.”

She has assisted in a proposal for radon awareness and testing in all SHA facilities, which has the potential to save countless lives, a nominator writes. “Her involvement in this vital project is a testament to her leadership, acumen, skills, willingness to research, as well as work cooperatively and enthusiastically, as she garners respect and attentive ears from colleagues within public health and the broader community.”

“Dr. Silveira embodies the essence of a true resident leader,” another writes. “Her commitment to providing unparalleled care for our population, coupled with her exemplary leadership qualities, sets her apart as a deserving candidate for the Resident Leader of the Year Award. She has not only transformed the lives of countless individuals through her compassionate care but has also contributed significantly to the advancement of our medical community.”

Nina Wingate – 2023 Student Leader of the Year

Nina Wingate found out she is the recipient of the SMA 2023 Student Leader of the Year Award at a busy time for medical students.

“It was a pleasant surprise amidst the chaos of CaRMS,” said Wingate, a fourth-year student. “I feel very humbled and immensely grateful to have been considered for it in the first place. I’d like to thank the SMA for considering me. In particular, I’d like to thank my parents for their endless support through what seems to be my never-ending education.”

Born and raised in Melfort, she is following the same path as her father, family physician Dr. Jordan Wingate. In her final year of medicine, she has explored her interests in leadership, rural and remote medicine, and women’s health. She says the support and guidance she has received “has made my path through medicine and life fulfilling in ways I can’t describe.”

One of her nominators writes Wingate “has provided a sounding board and safe environment for all student concerns.” She represented Regina as the Vice President Regina on the Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan (SMSS) in her second year and exhibited exceptional leadership skills for the SMSS as events resumed following shutdowns due to the pandemic. “It was a difficult role to take on, but Nina did it with exceptional communication skills, maintaining open lines of communication with her classmates, and always with a positive attitude,” one of her nominators says.

As Clerkship Class Representative on the SMSS for Years 3 and 4, she has “remained a powerful force and has always been accessible to her classmates,” a nominator writes. “She has handled the role spectacularly, and I, along with many of my classmates, are incredibly proud to have her as a representation of our class. … I have personally had more conversations than I can count with Nina, where I have always felt listened to, supported, and understood. There has never been a question in my mind about who to go to for advice, regarding both personal and professional matters.”

Wingate has also been involved with the Students for Harm Reduction and Informed Policy group, which is a grassroots organization founded by medical students in the Class of 2024 that is lobbying for harm reduction in policy reform, educating the community about the opioid epidemic, and advocating for those with inequitable access to health care. She has volunteered at the Student Wellness Initiative Towards Community Health, a student-run inner city clinic. She participated as both a nutrition supervisor overseeing a team of students to create and serve meals to the community, as well as a clinical team member providing primary care services.

“I truly believe that Nina embodies what it means to be a leader, from both a professional and a personal perspective,” a nominator writes. “The Class of 2024, especially the Regina cohort, is better off because of her – any classmate would agree with this. There is no one who comes to mind who is more deserving of recognition for her efforts, and who has likely been as underappreciated, as Nina.”

Wingate says she had a chance to take on roles within the College of Medicine and in the community “that pushed and challenged my approach to leadership throughout the past four years. Overall, I have always made a conscious effort to be an approachable, encouraging person and to treat everyone as an individual, which I think greatly benefitted my relationships with my classmates as well as the community. I hope in some way that played a part in my nomination.”

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