2008 – British Columbia

The CFPC was pleased to honour Dr Susan Harris as the 2008 Family Physician of the Year for British Columbia. Sadly she passed away from a terminal illness in May 2009. Dr Harris continues to be greatly missed by her family, friends and extensive circle of colleagues and patients. She was a highly respected family doctor and a passionate, dedicated and caring individual who touched the lives of many.

With a physiotherapy degree in tow, Dr Susan Harris graduated from medicine at McGill University in 1975. She was certified in Family Medicine in 1985, having already established her first family practice in New Westminster, BC, and later in Vancouver.

A visionary for innovation, Susan implemented a new model of care within her practice to improve health outcomes for her patients. Called The Family Practice Centre, it incorporated nurse practitioners and dietitians and was one of the first in BC to implement an electronic medical record. Susan was a mentor for many family physicians adopting EMRs. In 2004, Susan co-founded the South Community Birth Program for the ethnically diverse and underserviced in South Vancouver. She led a new approach called Centering Pregnancy, in which inter-professional care and patient education are delivered in a group setting.

Susan was a Clinical Professor at the University of British Columbia and Head of the Department of Family Practice at the Children’s and Women’s Health Centre of British Columbia. Susan was well known for her motto: ‘We have got to do something about it!’

Susan was Co-chair of the UBC Collaboration for Maternity and Newborn Health, and helped to lead several important initiatives, including the Fir Square Doula Support project for substance-abusing women. She was the recipient of several professional awards, including the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons Award of Excellence.

Together with her husband, Ron, she enjoyed spending time with their three children John, Amy and David. She also dedicated her time as a volunteer for Children’s International Villages and the Canadian Kidney Foundation.

In the words of Dr Harris at the time of her award presentation:

Family Medicine has offered such a satisfying career. It remains the most challenging of disciplines, with relationships with people from all walks of life and generations and a real connection to community. I feel so lucky to have chosen it and to be honoured by my peers.

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