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Announcing the recipients of the 2024 Sunnybrook Excellence in Education Awards

May 7, 2024

The 2024 Sunnybrook Excellence in Education Awards honours 10 leaders in education.

The Excellence in Education Awards recognize achievements in education, and the passion for teaching and learning demonstrated by Sunnybrook staff, physicians and volunteers.

“All of our award recipients this year have demonstrated what it means to foster a supportive and stimulating learning environment that empowers the next generation of healthcare professionals,” says Dr. Ari Zaretsky, Vice President of Education. “It is because of the dedication and leadership of our award recipients, nominees and faculty that Sunnybrook is a leading academic health sciences centre.”

Congratulations to all of the 2024 Sunnybrook Excellence in Education winners:

Allan Knight Lifetime Education Achievement in Teaching Award

Dr. Rob Jaunkalns and Heather Harrington

Dr. Rob Jaunkalns has been a mentor to Sunnybrook staff and learners in the Department of Psychiatry’s Consultation-Liaison (CL) service for decades. Dr. Jaunkalns’ well-established reputation as a teacher and supervisor, led to the re-naming of the Department of Psychiatry’s learner-nominated resident teacher award, the Dr. Rob Jaunkalns Resident Teacher award.

Dr. Jaunkalns embodies all of the components of teaching excellence; he actively works to improve his teaching, encourages feedback, and identifies and addresses learner needs. He demonstrates this compassion with students, colleagues and patients alike. One of his learners explains, “Dr. Jaunkalns leads by example in providing exemplary and inspirational patient care. He treats every patient with kindness and compassion and we, in turn, strive to provide the same level of patient care.”

Dr. Jaunkalns’ guidance and leadership has had profound impact on multiple generations of learners and psychiatrists. As a mentor in the Sunnybrook Program to Access Research Knowledge (SPARK) for Black and Indigenous Medical Students, he has inspired young BIPOC students and trainees, creating a lasting impact as they begin their careers in health care.

“Not only is he revered by those of us within the department of psychiatry, he is well-known and respected across the hospital,” explains one of his nominators. “He models the best of the word “liaison” in consult-liaison psychiatry as his sage opinion is frequently sought by even the most senior staff on the medical and surgical floors.” Dr. Jaunkalns’ commitment to education has had a multi-generational and interprofessional impact on Sunnybrook learners, staff and patients.

Heather Harrington has exemplified excellence in teaching as a clinical educator in Sunnybrook’s Cardiovascular Intensive Care Unit (CVICU) for the past 17 years. Her passion and commitment to education has had a lasting impact on all staff and students, and has improved the standard of care for critical care cardiac surgery and vascular surgery patients.

In order to recognize and respond to the learning needs of staff, Heather developed a year-long orientation program for novice CVICU nurses with evaluation and feedback embedded throughout. Her course teaches advanced skills for critical care and CVICU nursing including chest tube and pulmonary artery catheter removal, intra-aortic balloon pump management and continuous renal replacement therapy. This initiative not only provides learners and staff with knowledge and proficiency in these skills, it also builds confidence to provide safe and advanced care to patients in a complex medical environment.

One of Heather’s nominators states, “Heather goes above and beyond to support not only her own teams, but any other teams and educators who need consultation or support. Heather’s experience and expertise truly has an organization-wide impact.”

“Heather has the qualities of an outstanding nursing educator: expertise, dedication, leadership and genuine passion for nursing and nursing education,” says another nominator. Her contribution to the education and development of staff, commitment to continuous improvement and compassionate patient care, demonstrates her constant willingness to go above and beyond for Sunnybrook staff and families.

Educating Beyond Sunnybrook Award

Claudia Bucci

Claudia Bucci, clinical coordinator, cardiovascular diseases, has been a valuable member of Sunnybrook’s Department of Pharmacy for more than 20 years. Also involved with teaching at the University of Toronto’s (U of T) Faculty of Pharmacy, her passion for clinical and educational excellence can be felt beyond the walls of Sunnybrook, and her knowledge highly regarded by healthcare professionals across the country.

In addition to her roles at Sunnybrook and U of T, Claudia coordinates the Canadian Cardiovascular Society’s Annual Contemporary Therapeutic Issues in Cardiovascular Disease Conference and delivers a professional development program for pharmacists on cardiovascular therapeutics. In 2011, she was awarded the Schulich Award for Nursing and Clinical Excellence for her commitment to Sunnybrook colleagues, patients and families.

Claudia’s involvement in organizations like the Canadian Cardiovascular Pharmacists Network, Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists and Ontario Pharmacists Association has led to the creation of several conferences, programs and applications that aim to enhance learning and skills for pharmacy professionals.

“Claudia creates an environment where students feel safe to actively participate, enhancing their learning. Once she finishes her lecture or workshops, there is typically a line of students waiting to speak to her about her knowledge and work,” says one of Claudia’s nominators. Her clinical expertise, supportive mentorship and dedication to education embodies the mission and values of Sunnybrook, and has had lasting impact on her profession as a whole.

Educating Sunnybrook Award

Karen Johansen

Karen Johansen joined Sunnybrook’s Veterans Program as an advanced practice nurse in 2005, and has been highly involved in the training of nursing students, RNs and RPNs in the Veterans Program and Palliative Care units. At her time at Sunnybrook, she has shown a constant commitment for mentorship, quality improvement, and interprofessional team-learning and collaboration.

Karen plays an active role in best practice implementation in her unit and profession. She was an original executive committee member of the Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario (RNAO) Palliative Care Nurses Interest Group, and designed Palliative Education Pearls (PEP) Talks, a series of online resources covering a wide variety of Palliative Care practices and topics. Karen also leads the Medication Administration orientation session, which she continues to update and innovate on based on student feedback and discussion.

“Karen models professionalism through her teachings at the bedside,” says one of her nominators. “She collaborates closely with the unit Patient Care Manager and interprofessional team to ensure exceptional, person-centered care to all patients.” In collaboration with her patients and their families, Karen implemented “getting to know me” pages at bedsides, improving the patient experience and ensuring holistic care of the whole person.

Karen’s immense knowledge and passion for palliative care education inspired her students and colleagues, in turn creating an improved care experience for patients. Another nominator explains, “her extensive knowledge fosters a sense of confidence and safety not only within the team, but for the patients and families we serve.”

Innovative Curriculum Award

Dr. Harvey Wong

Dr. Harvey Wong, respirologist, clinician-teacher and assistant professor in the Department of Medicine at U of T, enriches the experience of undergraduate and post-graduate students through his constant drive to engaging teaching. The impact of his teaching materials has extended beyond respirology, as his teaching style and format has been adopted for program curriculums throughout the hospital.

Throughout his time at Sunnybrook, Dr. Wong has refreshed existing course material to enhance the student experience and address different learning needs. He utilizes a span of different teaching methods including e-modules, case-based teaching, learning objectives, rotational lectures and a resident journal club. In 2012, he developed a multi-site Adult Tuberculosis Disease elective in collaboration with the Ontario Public Health Lab to provide learners with unique learning opportunities. Under his leadership, Dr. Wong turned this course into an experience that attracts residents from a range of specialties from across the country.

“Dr. Wong has been instrumental in training the next generation of physicians. His enthusiasm, innovation and dedication has resulted in enriched pulmonary curriculum and educational experiences spanning the spectrum of undergraduate, postgraduate and subspecialty learners,” explains his nominators.

Dr. Wong’s innovative curriculums and teaching styles have not only enhanced the skills of students, but also experienced healthcare professionals and leaders. His impactful approach to teaching can be seen through the different electives, skills and certification courses, research projects, and speaking events that he has influenced.

Student Experience Award

Women and Babies Ultrasound Team

The Women and Babies Ultrasound Team is a part of Sunnybrook’s Department of Medical Imaging and Obstetrics and Gynecology departments, and is comprised of highly-specialized ultrasound technologists that perform around the clock medical imaging for the hospital’s smallest and youngest patients. Despite facing several challenges due to a shortage of staff, the team continues to provide a passionate and stimulating learning experience for all learners.

Each of the technologists on the Women and Babies Ultrasound Team is involved in teaching on a daily basis, and role model not only advanced clinical work, but also compassionate patient care. They’re teaching prioritizes thoughtful and responsive feedback, safety and wellbeing, community learning and technical excellence.

One of the team’s nominators states, “They are providing the highest level of care with technical excellence, personal warmth, compassion, and understanding, while at the same time translating their knowledge to the next generation of medical professionals to ensure continuity of care for generations of patients to come.”

The Women and Babies Ultrasound Team’s personal passion for teaching, and commitment to their profession results in a welcoming, advanced, collaborative and engaging learning environment for students, staff and patients alike.

The Women and Babies Ultrasound Team includes: Liliana Acevedo, Sara Assor, Serguei Chalameev, Kathy Chen, Cheng Dai, Sameera Khatib, Barbara Majcherczyk, Jacklyn Ortiz, Lesya Palamarchuk, Elizabeth Phan and Tiffany Tran.

Student Experience Award - Student Nomination

Dr. Anthony Lott

Dr. Anthony Lott is a medical oncologist and clinician-teacher at Sunnybrook’s Odette Cancer Centre. Dr. Lott prioritizes a warm, enthusiastic and supportive work environment for all learners and colleagues, while simultaneously providing quality and advanced clinical knowledge.

Medical oncology can be a challenging specialty due to the rapidly-changing treatment landscape. In response, Dr. Lott developed a resident-focused educational resource called “Notion,” which provides simple, digestible and adaptable concept frameworks. The tool is not only helpful for Sunnybrook students, but has been used by learners throughout Canada. In addition to providing students with innovative resources, Dr. Lott is also committed to adapting his curriculum to individual learners by providing comprehensive feedback.

“He provides one-on-one time to ensure learners feel well supported. Dr. Lott's approach is a testament to his commitment to nurturing a workspace that respects and thrives on the rich diversity of its members,” says one of Dr. Lott’s residents.

Dr. Lott’s mentorship, commitment to responsive teaching, encouragement of student and trainee research projects and clinical expertise fosters an inclusive and enriched educational environment for all learners. Dr. Lott’s leadership embodies the values of Sunnybrook’s culture and community, and the spirit of student experience and education excellence.

Patient and Family Education Award

Joe-Anne Vanhorn

Joe-Anne Vanhorn is a part of the Patient and Family Advisory Council (PFAC) within the psychiatry program and a member of the Education Research Advisory Committee. In her 10 years of volunteerism at Sunnybrook, Joe-Anne has contributed her time, expertise and lived experience to support education research initiatives, inform clinician learning and training and overall enhance patient care and experience.

One of Joe-Anne’s nominators says, “Joe-Anne, through her active participation, has been instrumental in helping to drive our research priorities to always be inclusive and mindful of the patient and family voice.”

The voices and participation of Sunnybrook patient and family partners play a crucial role in the implementation of best practices and the creation of different care programs and workshops. Joe-Anne played an integral role in the success of educational tools and video series, as well as the creation of a patient and family feedback platform, which had a significant impact during the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, when the delivery of care was adapting to ever-changing restrictions and delivery methods. Additionally, her valuable participation in the review of research proposals and grants ensure that the research informing future systems of care is equitable and patient-centred.

Another one of Joe-Anne’s nominators explains, “We can all agree that the core element of our existence is to provide better patient care. She ensures that the patient is not just a symbolic representation by highlighting the patient’s centrality to inventing the future of healthcare through Education Research.”

Mentorship in Advancing Education Strategic Priorities Award

Dr. Sander Hitzig

Dr. Sander Hitzig is the research director of the St. John’s Rehab Program, and under his leadership, peer-review funded research and research teams within the program have grown dramatically. His mentorship and commitment to collaboration not only engages graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, research assistants and clinicians alike, but also enhances the capabilities of those who work alongside him.

One of his trainees shares, “not only does Dr. Hitzig demonstrate a commitment to fostering intellectual, creative, scholarly, and professional growth of his mentees, he also demonstrates a commitment to their professional and personal development.” Wellbeing is a focus demonstrated throughout his research as well as his mentorship. Dr. Hitzig promotes equity and knowledge mobilization through his collaborative work with clinicians.

During his time in the St. John’s Rehab Program, Dr. Hitzig’s mentorship has impacted a vast number of learners and has provided unwavering support for the next generation of leaders in health care. He provides detailed, individualized feedback on student work, and also dedicates time to better understand his learners’ goals and capabilities.

Dr. Hitzig promotes equity and knowledge mobilization through his interprofessional work with clinicians, patient partners and learners, embodying Sunnybrook’s values of collaboration in education. “His approachable demeanor, genuine interest in his mentees' success, and commitment to fostering a supportive learning environment make him an exemplary mentor,” says one of Dr. Hitzig’s past post-doctoral fellows.

Team-Based Interprofessional Teaching Award

Schulich Education Council

The Schulich Education Council (SEC) is an integral part of the Schulich Heart Program’s strategic priority to build high performing teams and improve collaboration. Working with the Sunnybrook Canadian Simulation Centre (SCSC), this interprofessional team brings to life

experiential learning for teams to engage in realistic scenarios to improve role clarity during emergent situations such as code blue responses.

The SEC’s innovative approach to educating teams on managing emergency scenarios supports teams in managing high-stress, and high-stakes events requiring seamless orchestration of the inter-professional teams to achieve optimal patient outcomes. Their initiative has not only improved interprofessional education (IPE) in the Schulich Heart Program, but has ignited interest from other care programs within Sunnybrook as well as organizations across the country.

In addition to their code blue IPE program, SEC has also engaged Sunnybrook patients and families through the creation of patient education resources in the Schulich Heart Program.

“By fostering a safe learning environment, SEC encouraged the participation from stakeholders, who are not only actively involved in the process of identifying gaps in care, but also those responsible for facilitating care changes that help improve patient outcomes,” says one of SEC’s nominators.

The SEC includes: Hammad Aqeel, Teeka Chin, Elli Clarke, Rigine Cruz, Anastasia Derbakova, Stephanie Fernandes, Briana Hardy, Dr. Fuad Moussa, Dr. Amr Moustafa, Seema Seth, Dr. Vincent Siu, Athrun Tseng and Bing Xu.

Congratulations to all our nominees:

Educating Beyond Sunnybrook Award

  • Dr. Phyllis Glanc
  • Michael Roffey
  • Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network Team

Educating Sunnybrook Award

  • Bailey Hollister
  • Preetal Makan
  • Jenny Ng

Educational Research Award

  • Dr. Raed Alhusayen

Patient and Family Education Award

  • Catherine Perri
  • Stroke Best Practice Team

Student Experience Award

  • Dr. Matthew Boyle and Karianne Mintz
  • Dr. Shaheeda Ahmed
  • Tanaz Godrej
  • Razia Haidar
  • Dr. Prathiba Shammi
  • Radiation Therapy MRI Team

Student Experience Award - Student Nomination

  • Dr. Grant Chen
  • Dr. Elie Isenberg-Grzeda
  • Mumtaz Patel
  • Dr. Monty Sandhu
  • Dr. Kevin Singh
  • Dr. Barathi Sreenivasan
  • Dr. Rebecca Stovel
  • Dr. Christopher Tarola

Team-Based Interprofessional Teaching Award

  • Sunnybrook Practical Obstetrical Multi-Professional Training (PROMPT) Team
  • Women and Babies Ultrasound Team

Mentorship in Advancing Education Strategic Priorities Award

  • Critical Care Program Clinical Facilitators & Critical Care Mentors
  • Jim Huth
  • Dr. Umberin Najeeb
  • Dr. Mara Silver
  • Dr. Gemini Tanna