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Dalhousie Medical Alumni Association Honours Nine Outstanding Alumni in 2021

Posted by Melanie Starr on October 12, 2021 in Academic News
2021 DMAA Alumnus of the Year award winners (left to right): Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Dr. Jennifer Russell, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and Dr. Heather Morrison
2021 DMAA Alumnus of the Year award winners (left to right): Dr. Janice Fitzgerald, Dr. Jennifer Russell, Dr. Bonnie Henry, and Dr. Heather Morrison


The Dalhousie Medical Alumni Association has announced the recipients of its 2021 DMAA Alumni Awards — nine deserving members of the alumni community, who will be honoured at a virtual ceremony on November 25. 

For the first time ever, the Alumnus of the Year award will be co-presented to four individuals. All four are provincial chief medical officers of health (CMOH): Dr. Janice Fitzgerald (PGM '96), Newfoundland & Labrador; Dr. Bonnie Henry (MD ’90), British Columbia; Dr. Heather Morrison (MD '99), Prince Edward Island; and Dr. Jennifer Russell (PGM ’01), New Brunswick.

“These four women have done a stellar job protecting the health and safety of the people in their provinces, during an incredibly stressful time, in an incredibly demanding role,” says Dr. Kathy O’Brien (MD ’87), president of the DMAA. “We on the DMAA board felt that it is only fitting to honour all four of our CMOH alumnae for their dedication, determination and success in minimizing the impact of COVID-19. We are so proud of our alumnae for their courageous leadership in this great crisis of our time.”

Dalhousie Medical School provided a strong background for all four CMOHs to perform well in their high-pressure roles. “I feel very well-grounded in what I learned at Dalhousie Medical School,” says Dr. Henry. “Especially in the areas of ethics and physician leadership. Dal does a really good job in these areas, which has helped me tremendously over the years.”

“My connection with the Dalhousie medical alumni community has been really important to me throughout my career,” notes Dr. Morrison. “It has been even more so through this crisis. It feels wonderful to be both supported and recognized by our colleagues with this award from the DMAA.”

Among the other award recipients being honoured is Dr. K. Thomas Robbins (MD ’74), who will be presented with the coveted Honorary President Award for his leadership and outstanding contributions to advancing the treatment of head and neck cancers over the course of more than 40 years as an otolaryngologist and head and neck surgeon in the United States.

The 2021 Family Physician of the Year Award will go to Dr. Michael Fleming (MD ’78) for his exceptional contributions to medicine, not only as a family doctor but also as a long-time faculty member at Dalhousie Medical School. In particular, Dr. Fleming played a key role in the development of continuing medical education programming for the medical school over three decades.

Dr. Ian Epstein (MD ’04, PGM ’09), director of the Internal Medicine Residency Training Program, will receive the 2021 Young Alumnus of the Year Award. This award recognizes Dr. Epstein’s tireless work to expand and improve the Internal Medicine program, such that residents now have the opportunity to train in multiple locations throughout the Maritimes.

Two residents will also be presented with awards at the November ceremony. Dr. Marissa LeBlanc (MD '17) is the recipient of the Resident Leadership Award, Royal College Specialties and Subspecialties, while Dr. Colin Boyd (MD '18) will receive the Resident Leadership Award, Family Medicine (including enhanced skills programs).

“It’s so nice to be recognized for something that I love to do and doesn’t feel like work,” says Dr. LeBlanc, a fourth-year psychiatry resident. “I feel that medical school has prepared me well to begin the next phase of my career in psychiatry.”

"It feels good to be recognized in this way," agrees Dr. Boyd, a senior family medicine resident. "So much of medicine is working evenings, weekends or after your family has gone to bed. It's motivating to feel like it's all worthwile." 

The 2021 DMAA Medical Alumni Awards will be hosted by Dean David Anderson and feature DMAA president Kathy O'Brien and award winners on November 25 from 4 - 6pm (AST) via live virtual event