TORONTO— News that Dr. Andrew Stadnyk was to be honoured by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario came as no surprise to any familiar with the popular Mindemoya doctor. Dr. Steven Bodley of North Bay, who introduced Dr. Stadnyk to the presentation luncheon, summed it up well when he described the good doctor as “a family physician who has faithfully served generations of patients in his rural Manitoulin Island community for 33 years. Dr. Andrew Stadnyk has made a tremendous impact upon the community, many of whom wrote in to support his nomination for this award.”
“It wasn’t anything that I had expected,” said Dr. Stadnyk following the award. “I think there are lots of doctors in the North, and here on Manitoulin, more deserving. But it is very nice, particularly in the later stage of your career to hear that people think you are doing well at your job.”
Dr. Stadnyk said that it was particularly gratifying that his family, wife, four children and two grandchildren were able to attend the ceremony. Colleagues Pina Hare and Dr. Kevin O’Connor were also in attendance.
Dr. Bodley noted that the Council Award, with which Dr. Stadnyk was being presented, “recognizes physicians who have demonstrated excellence in eight physician roles that were identified by Educating Future Physicians of Ontario in 1993.”
Those roles, he said, included: “an outstanding person and professional, one who develops effective relationships with patients and colleagues; a scientist and scholar, one who understands and applies the scientific method in practice; a learner, one who recognizes the abilities to change and to continue to learn are essential to the practice of good medicine; a health advocate, one who understands the many determinants of health and advocates for more effective public health interventions and policies; a resource manager, one who participates to address issues such as quality of care and quality assurance mechanisms; a collaborator, one who works in partnership with other health care professionals and sees patients and their families as partners in health care decision-making; a communicator, one who develops effective, humane relationships with patients and colleagues; and, lastly, a clinical decision-maker, one who is well-informed about the science and technology of medicine and health care.”
“As advocates for the public, we established the Council Award to recognize those who embody society’s vision of the ideal physicians,” he said. “Dr. Stadnyk is such a person.”
Dr. Steven Bodley went on to give a short personal history of Dr. Stadnyk, who was born into a happy family of humble Polish/Ukrainian heritage in Saskatoon, growing up in Regina, the son of an engineer with the Saskatchewan Power Corporation and a teacher who became a stay-at-home mom, the eldest of two boys and three girls. One of Dr. Stadnyk’s favourite memories of that childhood included 1964 “where the family all crammed into a sedan, saw the Beatles at the World Fair.”
Dr. Bodley went on to relate that Dr. Stadnyk grew up enjoying sports and excelled in academics at school, going on to study biology during his first year at the University of Saskatchewan before applying to medical school. He completed a rotating internship at the Hurley Medical Centre in Flint, Michigan, followed by a three-year residency in family practice in Battlecreek.
He returned to Canada, where Dr. Stadnyk was “determined to work in the North,” said Dr. Bodley. “He used to come there quite a bit and always enjoyed the geography, the shields, rivers, lakes and forests—he wanted to work with First Nations people.”
Dr. Stadnyk joined a Mindemoya family practice in 1982 and has thrived there ever since as one of six doctors in the practice, noted Dr. Bodley, where he “does a bit of everything, including stabilizing critically ill or injured patients before sending them to a tertiary centre, managing a 14-bed inpatient hospital, acting as an advocate for the community’s medical needs, and until recently, covering 24-hour shifts in the emergency room. He also used to deliver babies.”
The personal touch that sets rural doctors in small communities apart might be somewhat taken for granted here on Manitoulin, the extra hours and incredible daily schedule that is a doctor’s lot here, but when set against the reality of the urban practice that Dr. Stadnyk had eschewed to come to the Island, it paints a remarkable picture of dedication and commitment to community worthy of accolade.
In addition to his daily rounds (that often are extended outside of clinic hours and to the aisles of the local supermarket), noted Dr. Bodley, Dr. Stadnyk also supervises and mentors medical interns from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine as well as family practice residents from Ottawa, Toronto and London (thereby extending his legacy through example to a new generation of medical professionals).
By all accounts the members of the College were appreciative of the opportunity to celebrate one of their own. “You have to remember that it is the College that polices the medical community,” noted Dr. Stadnyk. “They are usually the ones handing out the discipline, so I think they appreciated the opportunity to celebrate something positive.”
That positivity shone through this particular nomination. The College selection committee received “an unprecedented volume of letters of support” on behalf of Dr. Stadnyk’s nomination, many of which cited what Dr. Kevin O’Connor described as a “legendary” bedside manner, ethics and patience, adding that, “to say that he is a great pillar of the community is not overstating the case.”