Faculty alumna and clinical lecturer named leader in medicine

Kathryn Andrusky receives early career physician leadership award from Canadian Medical Association

Amy Hewko - 20 September 2013

Leadership has always been a strong part of Kathryn Andrusky's personality. It is such a strong trait that Andrusky (MD '03) was named a recipient of the 2013 Canadian Medical Association (CMA) Awards for Young Leaders. The annual awards recognize students, residents and early career physicians as future leaders in medicine. Andrusky won in the early career physician category.

Like almost half of University of Alberta medical graduates, Andrusky chose to become a family doctor who cares for Albertans. She completed her residency in Edmonton in 2008 and is now "paying it forward" to future generations of MDs by working as a clinical lecturer in family medicine at the U of A's 100 year old medical school. She also gives back through her membership and volunteer work with various boards and associations.

"I have had the opportunity to meet and be inspired by provincial and national medical leaders," she said, reflecting on how her early involvement in medical leadership roles has affected her. "I've learned that where life takes you and what issues or causes may emerge in the future is hard to predict."

When the Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) integrated with the International Federation of Medical Student Associations (IFMSA), Andrusky was selected as Canada's first National Officer of Reproductive Aids. She's had significant impact in this role through helping to establish National AIDS Awareness Day in medical schools across Canada, forming a mentorship program for other countries interested in joining IFMSA and co-ordinating a workshop exploring issues surrounding teen pregnancy. She was one of six students chosen from medical schools across Canada to pioneer the CFMS's international health portfolio.

Andrusky was also elected president of the Professional Association of Resident Physicians of Alberta (PARA) in 2006. She was involved in contract negotiations, assisted in the development of leadership training and workshops, and encouraged resident advocacy to provincial MLAs. She also helped create national policy with the Canadian Association of Internes and Residents (CAIR), a national organization of which PARA is a member. Andrusky also initiated a review of the association's leadership structure.

Prior to entering medical school, the Tofield, Alberta, native also spent one year as VP Academic in the University of Alberta's Students' Union.

"I have never been someone who can just accept an unsatisfactory status quo. I have a strong drive to improve what isn't good enough and to correct what isn't right," she said of her incentive to get and stay involved. "I like to think that I often voice thoughts or questions that provide a different perspective or a new approach to an issue."

Andrusky continues to advance health through her leadership. In 2011, she was elected to the Alberta Medical Association's board of directors. She also sits on the Section of General Practice Executive Committee, the AMA Representatives Forum, the AMA Government Affairs Committee and the Alberta Health Services Strategic Clinical Network on Emergency Medicine.

"One of my favorite quotes comes from a Garth Brooks song called The River: 'Don't sit upon the shoreline and say you're satisfied; choose to chance the rapids and dare to dance the tides,' Andrusky said in reference to her future ambitions. "All I can say is that, whatever comes and whatever opportunities might arise, I strongly suspect I won't be sitting on any shorelines."