Surgeon’s career reflects deep dedication to lifelong learning

April 11, 2022 | Author: Royal College Staff

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Dr. Ralph George is the recipient of the 2022 James H. Graham Award of Merit

Dr. Ralph George (photo submitted)

Meet a surgeon whose 37-year career stretches from Newfoundland to downtown Toronto. Ralph George, MD, FRCSC, is an associate professor of General Surgery at the University of Toronto and medical director of the CIBC Breast Centre at St. Michael’s Hospital. A dedicated teacher, mentor and colleague, he is equally known as a world expert in breast cancer management. His career is marked by high standards of care, a commitment to lifelong learning, and the far-reaching dissemination of medical knowledge and expertise. For these reasons, he is the 2022 recipient of the James H. Graham Award of Merit.

Dr. George’s career — progressively serving in various community and academic surgical posts in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Ontario — includes the consistent pursuit and promotion of professional development.

As one colleague writes, “Dr. George has never forgotten the basic tenet of medicine…never stop learning.”

Sharing surgical knowledge and expertise

Dr. George is the kind of surgeon others turn to for guidance.

“He is constantly staying up to date through journal clubs, conferences and self-directed reading,” writes nominator Adena Scheer, MD, FRCSC, a surgeon at the CIBC Breast Centre. “At our tumour boards he is often the one to cite recent trials and is always pushing our group to stay current. He is truly a lifelong learner and loves to share his knowledge with colleagues and trainees.”

Dr. George’s commitment to medical education includes serving on and chairing multiple committees at the Royal College over the span of 20-plus years. This list includes the General Surgical Oncology Examiners Subcommittee and the specialty examination board.

“Not only does he mentor and teach colleagues and trainees, but he is a founder of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada General Surgical Oncology Subspecialty,” explains Dr. Scheer. “As a fellow myself, I can attest to the hard work he puts in developing the fellowship, examinations, attending meetings and rounds, and staying up to date on General Surgical Oncology when his specialty practice is breast.”

Throughout his career, Dr. George’s contribution to medical education has included teaching and training surgical residents and non-surgical specialty trainees as part of multidisciplinary cancer care.

“Most importantly, Dr. George is the best role model for our trainees in how to approach a patient with breast cancer,” writes Melinda A. Musgrave, MD, FRCSC, assistant professor at St. Michael’s Hospital, in her letter of support. “His kindness, patience and most importantly his ability to listen (not just hear, but listen) to the patient is one of his most enduring strengths.”

Dr. George has a special talent in sharing his expertise and knowledge. “From lectures to medical students, operating room skill training, to an auditorium full of seasoned surgeons, Dr. George can captivate any audience and make didactic learning entertaining,” writes Renee Hanrahan, MD, FRCSC, a surgeon at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre, in her letter of support. “I always watch in awe as he enthrals a room of over 200 people.”

Advancing breast cancer care

Dr. George’s contribution to breast cancer care in Canada is far-reaching. “He is a pioneer in Toronto and in Ontario in establishing the importance and role of oncoplastic surgery in breast cancer care,” writes nominator Samuel Ogunbiyi, MBBS, FRCSC, a staff surgeon at the Stevenson Memorial Hospital in Alliston, Ont.

In all aspects of his surgical career, Dr. George’s commitment to breast cancer patients has been unwavering. “He has had a passion for these patients and their treatment, sitting on numerous panels and committees, establishing guidelines for care and advancing the specialty by continuing to train new surgeons not only in the art of surgery, but in the knowledge of the disease and its advancements,” explains Dr. Musgrave.

In addition to his tremendous contributions in breast cancer management, Dr. George is a leading surgeon in treatment of Hidradenitis Suppurativa. This condition results in painful, debilitating wounds that impact the patient’s physical, social and psychological wellbeing.

“After a new immunological treatment was launched, he rapidly became involved working in conjunction with the dermatologists to develop treatment pathways and guidelines for surgery for these patients,” writes Dr. Musgrave. “He is a national and international expert in this area and has changed the landscape for these forgotten and abandoned patients.”

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Rishma Nathoo | June 5, 2023
An expert who is human-first - kind, respectful, personable, honest and hopeful.
Tammy Johnson | April 26, 2023
I have been a patient of Dr. George's for several years at the CIBC Breast Centre at St. Michael's Hospital. He is an incredibly gentle, respectful and caring doctor and person. It is impossible to express how privileged I feel for him to have been my doctor over the years. I am so happy for him that he has received recognition of his fine doctoring with this award. Congratulations to Dr. George for an honour well-earned!
Ravit David | March 28, 2023
He is an amazing human being and a true professional. As a patient I wouldn’t want anyone else to be in charge of my health. He really sees his patients, remember crazy details about their lives and approach the care with so much respect and empathy. Congrats to Dr George for a well deserved award!
Diane Marquardt Neuman | February 5, 2023
This is amazing! I first met Ralph in his teen years when he attended our church in Palmer Rapids with his parents. Decades have passed since I last saw him but it comes as no surprise to me that he has accomplished all that he has. Even then he was a polite, studious young man. His parents were remarkable people as well and his upbringing has no doubt been instrumental in his success. Congratulations Ralph. I hope our paths will cross again someday.
Elizabeth Ruth (nee Pettigrew) | October 8, 2022
As a patient of Dr George's, I was thrilled to come upon this announcement on social media. I'm quite certain, that no one in Canada could be more deserving of this recognition. Dr. George is an incredible practitioner. I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2018/2019, in my 40's and could not have asked for a more compassionate, professional and respectful physician. He had a gentle manner when delivering hard news, and is highly responsive to patients' concerns along the way. His is the one oncology-related medical appointment I do not dread and actually look forward to! Well done, Dr. George! I'm pleased to see your peers have publicly acknowledged what your patients have known all along.
Angelina Nicastro | September 22, 2022
Dr. George is a pleasant and very skilled surgeon who helped me when all avenues were exhausted and I really needed his help and support. Very caring and compassionate to me from the first hello to post surgery care. So grateful for him.
Andrew Boukydis | April 18, 2022
I have known Ralph since he was in Med school. We were housemates for two years. We have kept our friendship since that time. It gives my wife and I great pleasure to see the awarding of this honour to Ralph. We join in the applause for Ralph given by his peers and all who know him.
Amber Menezes | April 14, 2022
Dr. George is a remarkable individual and well deserving of his award. I have always enjoyed his updates on breast cancer. He has a particular gift for breaking down complex topics and making them simple and easy to understand. He has a lovely approachable manner also - he talks to you, not down to you.
Brian Knight | April 13, 2022
Congratulations Ralph
George Hiraki | April 13, 2022
Congratulations to an excellent, outstanding, exemplar surgeon and human being. He is someone everybody should emulate.
Al Felix | April 13, 2022
So proud of you for this well deserved prestigious award. You are to be congratulated for your contributions to advancing the treatment of breast cancer and for your mentoring qualities. We in NL also take pride in setting you in the right direction.
Michelle Jackman | April 13, 2022
Congratulations Dr. George! You epitomize the tenants celebrated with this award. I consider you to be one of most influential mentors I had the privilege of working with during residency. You continue to inspire me everyday to continue learning to help my patients in Paediatrics. Most importantly, I will never forget your constant kindness, compassion and humour to all those around you. Thank you for everything!
Brian Cameron | April 13, 2022
Even as an intern, when Dr. George began his surgical career in St. Anthony Newfoundland, he was always an energetic and committed doctor. His patients and colleagues loved him then, and he deserves this accolade and recognition of his compassionate care and mentoring. Congratulations Dr. Ralph George to both you and your wonderful wife and family!