Edmonton doctor first in Canada to receive prestigious award from Mayo Clinic

Dr. Ann Colbourne and her influential work in the field of internal medicine is being recognized with the Mayo Clinic’s Plummer Society Award for Excellence.

The Edmonton doctor, who works with patients suffering from Type 2 diabetes, is the first in Canada to receive the prestigious award from the prominent US medical research group.

“At some level, I have to say I don’t feel worthy,” she says. “When I think of the people who received it before me, it’s quite humbling.”

Dr. Colbourne’s outstanding patient care is part of the reason she’s being honoured. Since coming to Edmonton in 2008, the physician consultant has led the successful Care Transformation Project, which gathered the U of A hospital’s internal medicine patients to one unit, cutting the average length of stay by half.

She says educating her patients during their time in hospital is her first priority.

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“If you really put the context of how long people spend in clinic versus how long they spend in the rest of their life – the time they spend in clinic is a very tiny proportion of that. So the reality is, my framework would be to try to set people up with the tools that they’re going be able to use everyday.”

It’s a philosophy her patients are grateful for.

“She’s very personable. It’s like you’re talking to your sister or somebody you know very well, a friend,” says Helen Kuzyk, the wife of one of Dr. Colbourne’s patients. “Since we started working with her, she’s really helped us understand what we have to do to get to where we have to go.”

“For sure the one-on-one patient encounters is still the thing that keeps me grounded and helps me remember why I have the word ‘Doctor’ in front of my name,” admits Dr. Colbourne.

In addition to caring for her patients in Edmonton, Dr. Colbourne continues to treat her diabetes patients in Newfoundland – where she started her career 23 years ago – through email, phone calls and regular visits. She is also Alberta Health Services’ Division Chief of General Internal Medicine for Edmonton.

With files from Su-Ling Goh, Global News