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Nicole Toutant is the 2020 Sydney Inskip Award recipient. (Photo: Wilna Furstenberg)

Award recognizes impact staff member has on residency, clerkship experiences in Prince Albert

If you visited the College of Medicine’s Prince Albert office, you’ve likely met site administrative coordinator Nicole Toutant.

Toutant has been selected as the recipient of the 2020 Sydney Inskip Award, which honours a staff member for outstanding service and contributions to the College of Medicine.

“I was genuinely surprised to win. I had no idea that this was even on the radar,” said Toutant of the award, adding she was notified at a particularly busy time. “The notification came during a stressful week. It was a nice email to read.”

Toutant is a central figure at the Prince Albert site and is responsible for all administrative aspects of the undergraduate medical education program at the site, along with many aspects of the postgraduate program. 

Alumni Dr. Ivan Jen (MD’60) and his wife Dr. Suzanne Yip (MD’60) created the Sydney Inskip Award in memory of Ms. Sydney Inskip, a staff member who made an impact on the couple when they were medical undergraduate students. The award is a tribute to Inskip’s kind spirit and exceptional contribution to student lives in the college, and recognizes outstanding contributions by non-academic staff.

Toutant was nominated by her supervisor Dr. Tom Smith-Windsor (MD), associate dean of distributed medical education. The nomination praised her warm and welcoming personality, and extraordinary organizational skills.

Smith-Windsor also noted that Toutant supports local faculty with their teaching, and organizes the annual SaskRENEWAL conference for distributed faculty from across Saskatchewan.

“Nicole is integral to the College of Medicine. When she started (in 2004), she was responsible for supporting the rural family medicine program here,” said Smith-Windsor, highlighting her part is developing the Prince Albert program.

“Nicole’s role with the residents played a big success in the learners, and she carried that into the undergraduate program,” he said. “She makes herself available 24/7 and is a key figure in Prince Albert.”

Toutant began working at the College of Medicine in 2004 with the Department of Academic Family Medicine before moving into the Distributed Medical Education office in Prince Albert (formerly known as the Rural and Northern Medical Education office).

Among her responsibilities, Toutant coordinates accommodations for clerks and residents in the area for community rotations, places many students into elective experiences, and supports learners who have moved to Prince Albert to complete their training. In all, she works with dozens of residents and students each year.

“I get to meet and work with all sorts of different people. People from all over Saskatchewan and Canada, from different backgrounds, and sometimes different countries. I feel fortunate to be able to do that,” Toutant said.  

“I ask myself if they were my niece or nephew and they were going to a new city and they had no family or friends to lean on, what would I like someone to do for them?” she added. “How would I like someone to welcome them and to guide them through a challenging year of training? And then I try to live up to that image.”

Toutant mentioned that during the pandemic, in-person interactions have been replaced by virtual communications, which has made regular check-ins with residents and clerks more challenging.

“Normally, their lockers are right outside my office,” Toutant said. “The conference room and lecture room are right there. They walk by my office multiple times per day, and I get a chance to touch base – ask how their day is or check in with them.”

Toutant noted she has worked alongside Smith-Windsor since 2004. Their effective teamwork helps the Prince Albert site run smoothly.  

“I think for the most part we are able to achieve that community and teamwork atmosphere, and it’s a very rewarding workplace when that is accomplished,” she said.

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