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Whistler doctor Karin Kausky named 2022 Family Physician of the Year

Whistler 360’s founding director was honoured by the College of Family Physicians of Canada and Foundation for Advancing Family Medicine in November

Whistler Medical Clinic physician Dr. Karin Kausky has several different titles that can be attached to her name: Whistler’s 2021 Citizen of the Year, Favourite Whistlerite, co-chair of the Sea to Sky Division of Family Practice, Rural BC Community Award recipient, TEDx speaker, medical lead for Canada’s national ski cross team, and founding director of the Whistler 360 Healthcare Collaborative Society, to name a few.

Now, she can add Family Physician of the Year to the list.   

“I can’t tell you how amazing that is and how unbelievably humbled I am by that, knowing how many unbelievably amazing family physicians there are,” Kausky said.

The Reg L. Perkin Family Physician of the Year Award is issued annually by the Foundation for Advancing Family Medicine (FAFM), the charitable and fundraising arm of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), and named in honour of the CFPC’s executive director from 1985 to 1996. The peer-nominated award is presented to 11 family physicians—one from each province and one from the territories—“who exemplify what it means to be a family doctor: providing exceptional care to patients and contributing to the health and well-being of their communities,” according to the FAFM.

Kausky officially accepted the national honour from Perkin himself during an awards ceremony in Toronto on Nov. 11, held during the Family Medicine Forum, a few months after she was named B.C.’s 2022 Family Physician of the Year.

“I feel a bit of impostor syndrome … but it’s a huge honour,” she said. “And I do also feel a massive obligation to live up to that—so Whistler 360 is really helping me live up to that.”

The major award reinforces to Kausky that she and her colleagues are on the right track with Whistler 360’s innovative vision. After forming the Whistler Primary Care Task Force in 2019, Kausky has been intently focused on launching the community-governed, non-profit society that re-imagines how longitudinal primary care can be delivered and supported in Whistler. The organization is currently working to establish a team-based, not-for-profit primary care centre in the coming months that directly addresses challenges posed by the resort’s ongoing family doctor shortage.

The non-profit recently received a major boost in the form of a few significant donations, including a $500,000 donation from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation’s Founders Pass program.

Kausky has been caring for Whistlerites as a full-service family physician since 1993, after graduating from the University of Toronto’s medical school and subsequently completing her family practice residency at the University of Western Ontario.

“Her example motivates all of us to make our own contributions to the social fabric of Whistler. When Dr. Kausky asks for help on a community issue, it’s impossible to say no to someone who has given so much herself,” said one of the colleagues who nominated Kausky for the award.

Though Kausky said she is both “honoured and humbled,” she maintains the award isn’t an individual victory. The achievements she is being recognized for are a reflection of the effort, commitment, passion and intelligence of the “amazing” colleagues and volunteers she works with not just at the Whistler Medical Clinic, but at Whistler 360, the Whistler Community Services Society, Vancouver Coastal Health, the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation, the Sea to Sky Division, the municipality, and the wider community, she added in an email.

“It really speaks to how important the concept of ‘community led and governed is,’” Kausky said, “and proves it truly ‘takes a village!’”