This story is part of the Faculty’s Proud to Teach campaign, recognizing excellence and innovation in teaching across the Faculty of Medicine.
Dr. Leon Tourian, Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Program Director of postgraduate medical education (PGME) for Psychiatry is the 2019 recipient of the PGME Program Director Leadership Award. Dr. Tourian was nominated for the award by the Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, the co-chair of Education and Clinical Affairs and program residents, who lauded his numerous accomplishments since being named Program Director four years ago.
“Dr. Tourian is a staunch resident advocate, an excellent communicator and team player, an innovator, and an outstanding leader whose exceptional qualities have benefited not only our residents and staff, but also psychiatry programs across the country,” says Dr. Gustavo Turecki, Chair of the McGill Department of Psychiatry.
During their visit in 2019, accreditors from the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons Canada highlighted in their report that the psychiatry program met 10 exemplary standards. As well, they recognized the department’s Heinz Lehman Mentorship Program, largely developed by Dr. Tourian, as a leading practice and/or innovation. Additionally, accreditors noted Dr. Tourian’s outstanding leadership and described the program as a model for others.
“Dr. Tourian, in a short period of time, has risen to become a leader in medical education,” says Dr. Armand Aalamian, Associate Dean, Postgraduate Medical Education. “He has an approach that is collaborative, creative, learner-centered, and always kind. He is truly deserving of this year’s Program Director Leadership Award.”
“Every McGill program director who’s invested in ensuring their residents are getting the best training, in the best working environment possible, deserves this prize. And I know so many deserving candidates,” notes Dr. Tourian. “I am very touched and humbled to be this year’s recipient. A program director and the program can only thrive with a strong program office (I have an awesome group of program administrators), an engaged residency program committee, supportive Chair’s office, motivated and inspired residents and devoted and hard-working faculty. I am blessed with all of these. No one ever does this job for accolades or recognition. We do it for our residents. So getting a prize like this is very much appreciated.”
Dr. Tourian understands the value of great mentors having benefited from some great advisors since the start of his own residency. “I’ve had many mentors and many great role models at McGill. There is a long history of leadership in our department and in PGME,” explains Dr. Tourian. “My mentors have known me since I was a first-year resident. They have supported me through the ups and downs of being a junior faculty member and, through to today as Program Director. My mentors listened to me, taught me, guided me and spent hours helping me through challenging situations. I feel so much gratitude towards my mentors and a strong sense of responsibility to pay it forward.”
Appointed Chair of the National Psychiatry Program Directors’ Committee
After serving just two years as the Department of Psychiatry’s Program Director, Dr. Tourian was appointed Chair of the National Psychiatry Program Directors’ Committee (COPE: Coordinators of Psychiatric Education) “This is an impressive achievement,” explains Dr. Nicola Casacalenda, Associate Chair, Education and Clinical Affairs, McGill Department of Psychiatry. “As Chair, he drafted the patient complexity scale and worked with the Specialty Committee Chair, Dr. Kim St-John, to address the concerns of program directors across the country regarding the upcoming transition to the CBME curriculum on July 1, 2020.”
From an educational research perspective, Dr. Tourian has co-authored a paper with one of his senior residents, Dr. Marie Fournier. The paper addresses the impact of a novel resident-to-resident peer support initiative at McGill and delves into the specific needs of foreign residents starting training at McGill. He is also working on a research project with junior resident Dr. Sarah Hanafi looking at the impact of a cultural training day on trainee attitudes when caring for patients from diverse cultures and religions.
Residents and faculty alike have recognized Dr. Tourian’s engagement and excellence in residency education and training. He was awarded the Best Teacher Award in 2014 and the Best Resident Advocate Award in both 2016 and 2018 by residents.
Congratulations Dr. Tourian and thank you for being proud to teach.