News at Medicine - July 2020 - Royal College award

Royal College award
July 30, 2020
Dr. Kim St. John has been awarded the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada James H. Graham Award of Merit.
Dr. St. John has years of service to the Royal College, including 18 years on the Psychiatry Examination Board. Spanning more than 20 years in total, her service stretches from the creation of specialty standards for psychiatry and aiding in development and recognition of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry subspecialty, to review of other specialties’ standards and accreditation.
“I really believe in the importance of the Royal College in setting the standards for post-graduate medical education, training and assessment; this has always been very much my passion,” says Dr. St. John.

“The length and breadth of her participation demonstrates both her commitment to the work of the Royal College and how the Royal College values her contributions,” says associate professor of psychiatry Dr. Taryn Hearn. “As current chair of the Royal College Specialty Committee for Psychiatry, she brings invaluable experience and knowledge as we move towards Competence by Design.”

Competence by Design is the Royal College’s version of a competency-based approach to medical education. Transitions to Competence by Design are complex and include numerous workshops to plan and develop each discipline’s conversion.

“Dr. St. John is credited with “steering this initiative with a truly remarkable amount of diplomacy, skill and diligence,” says Dr. Sarah Noble, associate professor in psychiatry. “This was a new change for all workshop participants in psychiatry, and there were many challenges and differing opinions that might have delayed this process under a less skilled and experienced medical educator.”

“For me, CBD makes sense,” says Dr. St. John. “It was time to really look at how we were teaching and how we were assessing. I’ve known for a long time that there are people we graduate who have certain deficiencies and we haven’t caught and remediated them early enough, but CBD will help us do that … I’m very proud of what we accomplished and that we did it in time to roll-out as scheduled in 2020.”

Inspiring volunteer service

Dr. St. John’s service has also inspired colleagues to volunteer in medical education.
“At a personal level, Dr. St. John is the reason I volunteer with the Royal College,” says Dr. Hearn. “Her example showed me that being involved with the Royal College is an enriching experience that presents a wide variety of opportunities, and also that being in a more remote location is not an impediment to making a meaningful contribution.”

Dr. St. John says it’s important to demonstrate how volunteering can fit into a busy life that includes medical practice. “When you’re early career, unless you have seen someone who has done it and balanced it with family and all the other demands on your time, you don’t think you can do it,” she says.
In her role as chair of the Discipline of Psychiatry at Memorial, Dr. St. John says she often raises Royal College opportunities during annual reviews. “I know what a lot of the opportunities are at the Royal College and I can help people find the one that is right for them.”

Dr. St. John is a founding member of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Examination Board, serving as vice-chair from 2011-2017. At Memorial, she is currently chair of Psychiatry’s internal examination board.

Connecting locally and nationally

Dr. St. John’s volunteer work also extends into the community. She sits on the board of Choices for Youth, a St. John’s non-profit that supports at-risk youth. “That’s very important to me,” she says. “It has opened my eyes to some of the challenges that you don’t necessarily understand as you sit in your office every day and see patients one-on-one.”

The experience, she says, is teaching her new ways to help “those who will never manage to get to an appointment in an office.”

This honorary award of merit was named for Dr. James H. Graham, secretary-general of the Royal College from 1953 to 1979. In 1987, the Council of The Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada recommended that an award of merit be given to a person whose outstanding achievements reflect the aims and objectives of the Royal College.
Royal College National Awards program honours the exceptional personal achievements of specialist physicians and surgeons, and other medical professionals across Canada and internationally. These awards recognize contributions to the specialty medical field, the Royal College mission, and to the health care of citizens, both in Canada and globally.

Article originally published on the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons website.