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Yellowknife doctor receives national mentorship award

Dr David Pontin and his rural mentorship award. Photo: Society of Rural Physicians of Canada

Yellowknife’s Dr David Pontin has received a national award for his work as a mentor in rural medicine.

The award, from the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada, was presented in April. The society circulated news of this year’s awards in a Friday press release.

Pontin won the Rural Mentorship Award, recognizing “a rural physician that demonstrates outstanding commitment to mentoring and supporting future rural physicians, and/or rural physicians already in practice.”

An excerpt from his nomination letter, shared by the society, states that Dr Pontin is “a passionate advocate for creating the opportunity for family medicine residents to train in the NWT and serve the remote, primarily Indigenous communities.”

Pontin worked to create the Yellowknife family medicine residency site, the letter adds, which in 2020 became “Canada’s first and only circumpolar family medicine site,” helping to address the challenge of recruiting and retaining physicians in the NWT.



More: Medical residents begin inaugural NWT training program

Residencies are a stage in a physician’s education during which they work for multiple years under the supervision of senior colleagues. The availability of residency programs is an obvious factor in whether or not physicians at that career stage will be attracted to an area.

“The site has been highly sought-after by prospective medical students,” the nomination letter for Pontin continues, asserting that more than 100 students applied each year for the two available positions.

Pontin was separately named one of Canada’s family physicians of the year in 2022. He moved to Yellowknife in 2006 and started working on the residency program a year later – work that took more than a decade to result in the program’s introduction.