CAPA announces 4th annual Recognition Award recipients

An emergency medicine PA at the forefront of advocacy, a physician who led Alberta’s Physician Assistant Demonstration Project, and an educator who has helped launch the careers of numerous PAs are the three individuals honoured this year with a recognition award from the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA).

Each individual was nominated by their peers and they were all celebrated in Niagara Falls on October 26 at the 2019 Awards Gala and President’s Dinner, part of CAPA’s Annual Conference.

“Without a doubt, the PA model is growing in importance and continues to make substantial contributions to patient care and health system effectiveness,” said Leslie St. Jacques, CCPA, President of CAPA. “This couldn’t happen without the contributions of PAs and supervising physicians who have forged a path to implement the role and demonstrate its value. The three individuals recognized this evening—Sahand Ensafi, Dr. Gibson, and Dr. Smith have had an enormous impact and, on behalf of CAPA, I extend my sincerest congratulations to each recipient.”

The 2019 Award Recipients are:

Sahand Ensafi, CCPA—Tom Ashman Physician Assistant of the Year

Sahand was nominated by Dr. David Carr, his colleague and an emergency physician, as well as the Associate Director of Risk Management and Faculty Development at UHN.

In his nomination letter, Dr. Carr reflected on Sahand’s clinical expertise in emergency medicine and his growing role in PA education, which includes teaching and his emerging leadership role in UHN’s national emergency medicine conference.

Dr. Carr also highlighted Sahand’s passion for the PA profession and his advocacy with hospital leadership, health ministry officials, and elected officials through CAPA’s Queen’s Park PA advocacy days. In Dr. Carr’s words, Sahand “is the type of leader who will impact change and bring progress to the profession.”

The Tom Ashman Physician Assistant of the Year award recognizes a current member of CAPA who has demonstrated a long-term commitment to furthering the PA profession in Canada and Sahand is a most worthy recipient of this honour.

Dr. Neil Gibson—Honour Roll

Dr. Neil Gibson is a giant in Alberta’s PA and physician communities, who has been advocating for PAs for over a decade. He was nominated twice, by Kirsten Luomala, CCPA, and by Cindy Gilmore, CCPA, who both know firsthand about his exceptional commitment.

Dr. Neil Gibson is the Associate Zone Medical Director in the Edmonton Zone at Alberta Health Services. Not only has he been instrumental in introducing PAs in Alberta by spearheading the original Demonstration Project, but he has also been intimately involved in CAPA’s efforts to see regulation realized in the province.

Dr. Gibson was named the Honour Roll recipient in recognition of his outstanding contributions to the promotion and development of the Canadian PA profession.

Dr. Benjamin Marshall Smith—CPAEA / CAPA Educator of the Year

Dr. Ben Smith is a highly respected orthopaedic surgeon in Burlington and since 2011 he has accepted 5-10 PA students each year for clinical rotations, including horizontal electives and clerkship rotations.

Dr. Smith personally ensures that his students have access to his full practice environment and advocates for them to obtain privileges for and be involved in the operating room, fracture clinic, wards, outpatient clinics and the on-call schedule. He encourages participation in hands-on procedures and has given students ample opportunities to enhance their clinical skills by spending time independently with patients and reviewing collaboratively to solidify learning.

These are just a few examples of his contributions as a PA educator and his advocacy for the next generation of PAs in Canada. The Canadian Physician Assistant Education Association (CPAEA) and CAPA are proud to recognize Dr. Smith as the PA Educator of the Year.

Physician assistants will gather in Niagara Falls, with sights set on expansion across Canada

As Canadians from coast to coast struggle to access health care services, Canada’s PAs will meet to call on governments to make better use of the profession

NIAGARA FALLS, October 25, 2019 — More than 200 physician assistants (PAs) will gather in Niagara Falls from October 24 to 27 to discuss some of the biggest issues in health care and to call on provincial governments to use the profession to make health care services across the country more accessible and affordable.

“Canadians are rightly fuming about hallway health care, a lack of access to health care professionals, and endless waits for emergency and surgical services,” said Eric Demers, President of the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants. “Integrating PAs in team-based care is one of the best ways we can tackle these challenges and work together to improve access, improve outcomes, and control costs.”

PAs are highly skilled advanced practice professionals who work autonomously under the supervision of a licensed physician to extend productivity and allow more patients to be seen. They provide primary, acute, and specialty care in all types of clinical settings.

“PAs have been successfully integrated in the Canadian military for more than 50 years and in many provincial health systems for almost a decade,” said Demers. “It’s time for the remaining provinces to do right by their citizens and lift the barriers that prevent us from contributing, especially in places like British Columbia and Atlantic Canada that are crying out for help.”

Last month the Nova Scotia Health Authority announced it will add PAs to its orthopaedic surgery team in an effort to lower wait times for hip and knee surgeries. But with doctor shortages leading to frequent emergency department closures in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, and diminished access to primary care across many parts of Canada, it’s clear that there is a widespread need for PAs.

The CAPA Conference is the largest annual event that brings more than 200 PAs together to enhance their clinical skills and discuss their role in some of the biggest issues that confront the health of Canadians. Some key conference sessions include:

  • “Stop the Bleed” — described as “the CPR of the 21st century”, this workshop teaches everything you need to know to stop bleeding during a mass-casualty event (October 24).
  • Welcome Remarks from Sohail Gandhi, President of the Ontario Medical Association (October 25).
  • Opening plenary on burnout among health care professionals featuring Dr. Ann Collins, President-Elect of the CMA, Major Stuart Russelle, PA National Practice Lead for the Canadian Armed Forces, and Kirsten Luomala, a neurosurgery PA and CAPA’s Director for Alberta (October 25).
  • Day two plenary featuring Brian Goldman, distinguished emergency medicine physician and renowned host of CBC Radio’s White Coat, Black Art (October 27).

Other key topics that will be addressed include opioids, medical assistance in dying, and the cannabis landscape since legalization.

Media are invited to attend sessions and interviews with presenters can be arranged in advance or during the conference. To learn more about the conference, please view the online program for details.

About the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants

The Canadian Association of Physician Assistants is the national voice of physician assistants in Canada. We support quality standards and competencies and help establish the profession within the national health care framework. Learn more:

Media Contact: Andrea Tiwari, Director, Communications and Stakeholder Relations, or 613 614 6863.

Physician assistants arriving in Niagara Falls will learn to teach bystanders how to “stop the bleed”

Workshop participants will undergo training so they can help turn civilian bystanders into first responders

NIAGARA FALLS, October 22, 2019—Physician assistants from across Canada will arrive in Niagara Falls next week to learn techniques to stop life-threatening bleeding during a traumatic event like shootings or explosions.

Two “Stop the Bleed” workshops are being delivered as part of the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants annual conference, happening in the city between October 24 and 27. After participating in the course, the PAs will be trained to effectively deliver the workshop to members of the public when they return to their home communities across Canada.

“Stop the Bleed” is an awareness and training campaign that originated with the American College of Surgeons and is now delivered in Canada by Sunnybrook Hospital. In the workshop participants will learn about bleeding control and get hands-on opportunities to practice direct pressure techniques, packing wounds, and using a tourniquet.

“A person can bleed to death in as little as five to eight minutes,” said Andrew Lim, a certified physician assistant from Sunnybrook who is delivering the workshop along with three co-facilitators. “When a bystander in a tragic event has the skills to control bleeding right away, it can mean the difference between life and death.”

“Stop the Bleed” is known as trauma first aid and has been called “the CPR of the 21st century”, offering participants everything they need to know to stop life-threatening bleeding and save a life.


“Stop the Bleed” instructor workshop
Interview, photo, and filming opportunities will be available onsite

Physician assistants attending the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants Annual Conference

Thursday, October 24, 2019

Workshop One: 10:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Workshop Two: 1:00 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.

Marriott on the Falls, 6755 Fallsview Blvd, Niagara Falls

About the Canadian Association of Physician Assistants (CAPA)

CAPA is the national voice of physician assistants in Canada. We support quality standards and competencies and help establish the profession within the national health care framework. Learn more:

Media Contact: Andrea Tiwari, Director, Communications and Stakeholder Relations, or 613 614 6863.

Direct Entry For Civilian Physician Assistants

We’d like to share some big news regarding the PA profession in the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF).

For some time, the CAF has been actively working to create a direct entry plan that would allow civilian applicants who have completed their PA education to enroll in the CAF.

This week, the application process officially opened and civilian PAs may now, for the first time, pursue this exciting career opportunity with Canada’s military.

PAs may serve anywhere that CAF members are based—they will work in fully equipped medical clinics, whether at a base or garrison, or in a temporary clinic while supporting operations. PAs are also employed in underserviced and isolated locations including onboard ships and submarines.

To learn more about the necessary qualifications, application process, basic training, and available professional and advanced training, visit the CAF Careers website.

Learn More at CAPA 2019

If you’re attending the 2019 CAPA Annual Conference, be sure to drop by the CAF exhibit table, where recruiters will be happy to answer your questions.

You should also plan to attend a Sunday afternoon education session led by Major Stuart Russelle, PA – National Practice Leader / MOSID Advisor and CAPA Board Member, who will talk about practicing medicine at home and abroad through the CAF (see the conference program for more details).

Military PA graduates were the first formally trained PAs in the country and they have a long and distinguished history in Canada. It is incredibly exciting to see the culmination of the CAF’s efforts to grow the profession and create new opportunities for Canadian PAs.

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