By Lisa Dutton

During McGill’s Health Sciences Convocation, held earlier this week, in addition to receiving their diplomas, a number of graduating students from across the Faculty of Medicine were recognized with awards, including the 18 MDCM graduates named to the Dean’s Honour List. Following the ceremony, several of the MDCM graduates spoke with us to reflect on their experience with McGill’s MDCM program, and offering advice to future generations that will follow in their footsteps.

Dr. Sandrine Couture, who received the Holmes Gold Medal, awarded to the student with the highest aggregate standing in the entire medicine curriculum, offered advice to the incoming class of MDCM students who will begin their medical education in August. “The medical school journey is one of tremendous personal and professional growth. As I look back, I realize this growth arose from situations and opportunities that I could not have anticipated. For example, when I reviewed consultation requests, I could never have predicted which patient interactions would become the most meaningful to my education. I learned most from rotations that were different from what I had envisioned and pushed me out of my comfort zone. I found the most dedicated mentors in supervisors that challenged me. I met the most inspiring research supervisor by taking a chance at contacting a professor after an interesting lecture. I discovered the most supportive colleagues in complete strangers. Lessons in medical training do not come when you expect them. To have a chance at embracing it all, my greatest advice would be to always keep an open mind and to make a conscious effort to be present and engaged every single day.” This summer, Dr. Couture will begin her residency in Internal Medicine at McGill.

Another member of the Dean’s Honour List, Dr. Philippe A. Bilodeau is heading to Massachusetts to start his neurology residency at Harvard University.  Looking back on his undergraduate education, he reflects on how much he has learned from the patients in his care. “The gentleman with metastatic pancreatic cancer, who clings to a picture of his wife and children. The middle-aged businessperson diagnosed with ALS. The 20-year-old woman in the neuro-intensive care unit after a car accident. Caring for sick people is a privilege, and it taught me a lot about perseverance and resilience. Helping people through illness and tragedy is bitter sweet. Bitter of course because of the tragic nature of sickness and death. But sweet also, because there is significance in being with someone when they are most vulnerable, when they are raw, terrified, when they look for you to give them answers. The significance of a therapeutic touch, the trust that patients place in you when they tell you what they would never tell anyone else. Doctors like to see themselves as ship captains, heroically avoiding icebergs, preventing the boat from sinking. I would say that we are rather navigators, helping patients sail an uncharted sea, to use Paul Kalanithi’s words. We try steering the ship as best we can, but we are often powerless against storms and waves. My experiences in medical school taught me so much about human suffering, about the role of the physician as a doctor, of course, but also as a healer. I have grown both professionally and personally, and I am infinitely grateful to my patients for having taught me so much.”

Dr. Tianwei Ellen Zhou completed McGill’s prestigious MDCM and PhD Program and will complete her residency in ophthalmology at the Université de Montréal. She says that she learned the role of a doctor is not only to treat patients, but to educate them as well. “Being a physician goes beyond treating patients in your office or operating room. On a broader scale, we also have the social responsibility to educate patients and to empower them with proper medical knowledge. With the rapid evolution of medical science and technology, patients may find it difficult to discern truth from disinformation. For instance, many believe that stem cell therapy is a panacea for all. That is why I am collaborating with Réseau Vision du Québec to organize le Café scientifique (a casual get-together) to provide proper information on stem cell therapy to the general public. The ultimate goal is to help patients make decisions based on fact not fiction.” Dr. Zhou received the 2019 Scriver-Steinberg Convocation Prize in Human Genetics, recognizing a person with exceptional potential to translate knowledge into practice to make a difference in the well-being of patients, families, or community.

The following MDCM students received awards in recognition of their outstanding academic performance and their abilities as learners, healers, leaders, researchers and/or patient advocates.

Jessica Drury

Brian Newton Memorial Award is given to the student with the highest standing in the Obstetrics and Gynecology clerkship.

Christina Bianchini

Newell W. Philpott Award is given to a student in recognition of his or her academic achievement and clinical excellence.

Brian Tran

John H. Altshuler Prize in Family Medicine is awarded to the medical student with the highest mark in Familly Medicine clerkship.

Sandrine Couture

J.Francis William Prize in Medicine and Clinical Medicine is awarded to the student with the highest standing in the Internal Medicine clerkship.

Ashley Tritt

Montreal Children’s Hospital Prize for Pediatrics Excellence is awarded to the student with the highest standing in Pediatrics.

Sophie Jaarsma

Mona Bronfman Sheckman Psychiatry Prize is given to the student with the highest academic standing in Psychiatry.

Jessica Drury

Psychiatry Prize is awarded to a student who has shown the most promise in this field.

Christina Bianchini

Cambell Keenan Memorial Prize in Clinical Surgery is awarded to a student who has shown the highest proficiency in Clinical Surgery.

Natasha Caminsky

Robert Forsyth Prize is awarded to a student who has shown particular ability in all branches of Surgery.

Soumaya Bouhout

Dr. Mark Cohen Prize in Ophtalmology is awarded to a student with strong academic standing and who will be pursuing a Canadian residency in Ophthamology.

Jennifer Silver

H.S. Birkett Memorial Prize in Otorhinolaryngology is awarded to a student who has shown outstanding performance in Otolaryngology.

Sandrine Couture

E.David Sherman Award in Geriatric Medicine is awarded to the most outstanding student in the field of clinical geriatric medicine.

Sandrine Couture

Alexander D. Stewart Prize (professionalism) is awarded to a student who presents in every aspect the highest qualifications to practice the profession.

Ann-Sophie Lafrenière

Dr. Allen Spanier Prize for Professionalism in Medicine is awarded to a student who has maintained high academic standing and exhibited a high standard of professionalism and compassion towards patients, their families, fellow students and University and hospital staff during the practice of medicine component of the curriculum.

Brian Tran and Xin Mei Liu

Elizabeth Ann Munro Gordon Prize (leadership) is awarded by the Faculty and student(s) who embodies the highest qualifications to practice medicine and has demonstrated outstanding leadership abilities.

Emily Parkinson

Reilly Madsen Prize (empathy) is awarded, on recommendations from faculty and students, to a student with good academic standing who had demonstrated exceptional warmth and empathy towards patients.

Sophie Jaarsma

Elaine E.L. Wang MDCM Humanitarian Prize is awarded to a student who has demonstrated excellence in humanitarian care and a caring attitude in his or her work. This may include, for example, work with a global health organization, or work with disadvantaged, homeless or stigmatized populations and patients locally natinally or abroad.

Brian Tran

Ronald Douglas Naymark Prize is given to the student who most enriches the life of the class in the eyes of his or her peers. The award seeks to recognize an individual who inspires trust and confidence, optimism and enthusiasm in his or her medical colleagues.

Jennifer Silver

The Strachan Alexander Hartley Award recognizes a student who demonstrates athletic leadership and academic excellence.

Ellen Zhou

The Scriver-Steinberg Convocation Prize in Human Genetics recognizes a person with exceptional potential to translate knowledge into practice to make a difference in the well-being of patients, families, or community. It is awarded to a student who has pursued research in the field of genetics and metabolism, or to a student who has either completed his/her Ph.D. as part of the MDCM & PhD Program, or has completed his/her PhD while in medical school.

Sarah Carroll McRae

The Dr. Joseph Tanzman Award is given to a student from the Province of New Brunswick.

Alexandra Laverde-Saad

CHAP Graduation Prize is awarded to a student who has undertaken the best community project within the Community Health Alliance Project (CHAP), with a view to affecting positive change in the society.

Pallavi Ganguli

McGill Alumnae Society Prize is given to a distinguished student for excellence and high academic standing.

Sandrine Couture

Holmes Gold Medal is awarded to the student graduating with the highest

aggregate standing in the entire medical curriculum.

Catherine Boudrias

Wood Gold Medal is awarded for the most outstanding clinical performance achieved by a student in the Clerkship Period.


Dean’s Honour List

Sandrine Couture
Pallavi Ganguli 
Oliver Schneider
Catherine Boudrias
Sabrina Nolan
Leslie Scarffe
Brianne Patterson
Eugène Brailovski
Henry Biem
Yi Tong
Nina Hébert-Murakami
Philippe-Antoine Bilodeau 
Christine Audi
Jessica Lu 
Robert Samberg
Joseph Mancini 
Muriel Nader
Gabriel Crevier-Sorbo

Congratulations to all!


May 31 2019