Hematologist and Critical Care physician says trainees require mentorship, no longer a “nice to have”
Ryan Zarychanski, MD, FRCPC, is this year’s recipient of the Mentor of the Year award for Region 2
Many physicians look back with deep gratitude to that one mentor who went above and beyond, a generous leader who helped them build rewarding and impactful careers in research and clinical practice.
For former and current trainees in Hematology and Critical Care at the University of Manitoba and Cancercare Manitoba, the name that often comes to mind is Dr. Ryan Zarychanski.
“He exemplifies all the qualities of a mentor and has played a transformative role in my career as well as the careers of all trainees who are fortunate enough to work with him,” says Emily Rimmer, MD, FRCPC, a recent MSc graduate and Hematology researcher at the University of Manitoba.
A highly regarded hematologist and Critical Care physician, Dr. Zarychanski says mentorship is no longer a “nice to have” item but rather a necessity on the path to becoming an outstanding physician or successful scientist.
“I learned early that success in medicine requires consistent mentorship, and not just for a year but throughout one’s career,” he says. “So I’ve made a conscious effort to help committed trainees achieve success in their careers through mentorship.”
His research mentees often have their work published in high-impact journals and win research awards. A standout example is Brett Houston, MD, FRCPC, mentored by Dr. Zarychanski for the past nine years. She has already co-authored 10 papers with the clinician-scientist and been awarded peer-reviewed grant funding as a trainee.
Their mentorship relationship started in her first year of medical studies, when Dr. Houston was researching a hereditary, rare blood disorder. Their collaboration led to a major discovery.
“Together we found the genetic mutation for a disorder that was a mystery for almost 40 years,” says Dr. Zarychanski. Now, Dr. Houston has her first CIHR grant and Dr. Zarychanski is her supervisor for her PhD.
In addition to one-on-one mentoring, Dr. Zarychanski has led various initiatives to ensure support and guidance for trainees more widely. This includes his establishment of the Acute Care Hematology Research Group, a collaborative forum that provides graduate students and residents with consistent supervision and academic mentorship.
Dr. Zarychanski is also renowned for translating the best available evidence into practice. For example, he led the development of a major transfusion protocol in local hospitals. This massive logistical challenge brought together many diverse disciplines. Afterward, an evaluation of the program showed a significant reduction in mortality as a result of the new protocol.
“Ryan’s leadership examples have inspired me to pay it forward to the next generation of young clinician-researchers,” says Hematology resident Chantalle Menard, MD, FRCPC.