"Privileged to be her patient"

News / Patient & family Centred Care
By Anne Rutherford

Dr. Shawna Johnston named the winner of KHSC's 2018 Exceptional Healer Award

Her strong commitment to putting patients and families at the centre of care has earned Dr. Shawna Johnston the 2018 Exceptional Healer Award from Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC).

Dr. Johnston was one of 21 physicians nominated by patients, families and staff for the annual award, created by the Patient & Family Advisory Council to honour KHSC physicians who demonstrate in their clinical practice the core concepts of patient and family-centred care (PFCC): dignity and respect, information sharing, participation and collaboration.

Nominators for Dr. Johnston, a urogynecologist and international expert in the field of vaginal health, left no doubt that she practices with the highest respect and empathy for her patients, who can be challenged by pelvic floor disorders such as urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse.   

“Since gynecology was not my field, she took her time and explained the surgical procedure,” wrote one patient. “She was innovative in drawing diagrams for me and allowed time for me to ingest this information and to ask as many questions as I needed. I never felt rushed.”

Another patient nominator praised Dr. Johnston for treating herself and family members like “partners in the process of planning care” and as “an extension of the clinical team.” The patient concluded that Dr. Johnston is a “truly caring and patient-oriented doctor and I feel privileged to be her patient.”

And the physician was cited for her exemplary modelling of PFCC concepts to her residents, who in turn partnered with patients for the best care. Such modelling, commented one grateful patient, “is a gift from her to future practicing physicians and to the communities that will welcome them.”

A graduate of the Queen’s University School of Medicine, Dr. Johnston says that during her residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology she was trained to be a good listener by the late Dr. Neil Piercy. 

“I was taught to always put myself in my patient’s shoes, especially when surgery is involved,” she says. “It’s a big decision, and you can’t take a one-size-fits-all approach. That’s why my patients help me to decide what will work best for them. I’m always open to more questions—I spend a lot of time on the phone—because the patient needs to buy into the treatment. Otherwise, it’s not good care.”

And she sees families as key partners in the care process. “Families play a big part in treatment decisions because they’re the ones supporting the patient at home,” she says. “The choices we make need to work from both the patient and care provider perspective.”

All of the nominees for the Exceptional Healer Award were applauded for being good listeners who took time to answer questions and provide information, for showing empathy and compassion and for including other family members when planning and delivering care.

The selection committee for the Exceptional Healer Award received 34 nominations for 21 physicians, with one quarter of those nominations submitted by KHSC staff.

“We’re delighted that staff so wholeheartedly supported an award for exemplars in patient and family-centred care,” says Patient Experience Advisor Sue Bedell, who chaired the award selection committee. “It shows that fellow caregivers, along with patients and families, deeply appreciate physicians who provide respectful and compassionate health care.”

“Recognition by patients as an exceptional healer is a deeply meaningful accolade for any physician, because that is what we strive to be,” says Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, KHSC Chief of Staff and Vice-President of Medical Affairs. “We congratulate Dr. Johnston for this truly merited recognition as an exceptional healer, as well as all the other nominees for role modelling excellence in patient and family-centred care."

Congratulations to the other 20 nominees:

  • Dr. Manny Bal
  • Dr. Michael Brundage
  • Dr. Barry Chan
  • Dr. Jay Engel
  • Dr. Michael Flavin
  • Dr. Michael Leveridge
  • Dr. Peter MacPherson
  • Dr. Laura Marcotte
  • Dr. Andrea Moore
  • Dr. David Reed
  • Dr. Michael O’Reilly
  • Dr. Mark Ropeleski
  • Dr. Robert Siemens
  • Dr. Sid Srivastava
  • Dr. Yi Ning Johanna Strube
  • Dr. Benjamin Thompson
  • Dr. Anna Tomiak
  • Dr. Naji Touma
  • Dr. Brent Wolfrom
  • Dr. David Yen