Queen’s doctor wins prestigious award

Dr. Ruth Wilson wins 5-star Doctor award

Dr. Ruth Wilson says she is honoured to receive the 5-star Doctor award.
Dr. Ruth Wilson says she is honoured to receive the 5-star Doctor award.

Dr. Ruth Wilson said she’s used to people joking with her about how it feels to be one of best doctors in the world.

“I was not expecting to win this award at all. It is a prestigious award and it’s interesting to now have something at a world level,” she said.

Wilson, a professor in the department of family medicine, won the 5-Star Doctor Award, which is the highest honour given out by the World Organization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians (WONCA).

WONCA consists of organizations that deal with the academic aspects of general family practice. There are 120 member organizations in 99 countries, with over 250,000 general practitioners/family physicians as members.

“The five stars in the 5-Star Doctor Award are for teaching, research, leadership, clinical and organizational management,” Wilson said. “I’m not the best doctor at curing patients in the world, but I may have contributed significantly to all the areas.”

The award is distributed to physicians who have personally made a positive impact on the health of both individuals and communities.

Wilson has done substantial work towards providing everyone with healthcare access they need.

Upon graduation from medical school at the University of Toronto, Wilson went to Sioux Lookout, Bella Coola and other isolated First Nations communities to provide them with basic health care.

She then began working in the department of family medicine at Queen’s. In 1991 she became the department head and in 1995 she chaired a committee which established family medicine programs in war-torn Bosnia-Herzegovina.

“The department had a connection with Bosnia during the war and they did groundbreaking work. We’d been approached by the Dean of Medicine who wanted to establish primary care there, because during the war you can either give up or plan for a better future,” she said.

From 2007 to 2008, she served as president of the College of Family Physicians of Canada, which is the national representative body for WONCA. .

“My work as president of the College of Family Physicians of Canada has allowed me to make the case for the need for every Canadian to have a family physician,” she said.

The award celebrates the work of family physicians around the world in contributing to health, Wilson said, adding that she wasn’t expecting to win the award.

“I’m not sure even when the last time was that a Canadian was named,” she said.

Dr. Sonia Roache-Barker who practices in the Caribbean received the award as well this year. An awards committee, this year consisting of a professor and two doctors decided who was deserving of this award. Nominations were submitted in a form that was sent to this committee.

While Wilson wasn’t present when the award was given out in Mexico in May, the president of WONCA presented the award to her during a meeting in Vancouver last month.

Since 1989, Wilson has been practicing medicine in Kingston. She said that while helping patients is an important part of her job as a family care physician, it’s only one part and this award recognizes that.

“My work caring for patients is the most important part of my work life,” she said. “[But I also] enjoy teaching medical students and family medicine residents in my clinical practice, training the next generation of physicians.”

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