Dr. Andriy Samokhvalov
Dr. Andriy Samokhvalov has been named this year’s Physician of the Year by the CAMH Medical Staff Association. He’s a psychiatrist and clinician-scientist working in the Addiction Medicine Service (AMS) and the Social and Epidemiological Research department (SER). He was honoured for his work this month at a dinner given by the association.
Dr. Samokhvalov’s work as a clinician has had an impact on many communities. Mae Katt is a nurse practitioner and coordinator of a mobile treatment team in northern Ontario who wrote a letter on his behalf. Mae works in First Nations communities where prescription opioid drug dependence is as high as 80 per cent in the adult population. In 2011, she was put in touch with Dr. Samokhvalov who was key in helping her team develop a community-based treatment program using Suboxone, a medication used to treat opioid addiction.
(From left) Addiction counsellor Tammy Patriquin and Registered Nurse Daenis Camire getting off the plane in Keewaywin, Ontario. They are part of a treatment team that administers a community-based treatment program developed with help from Dr. Andriy Samokhvalov.
“His expertise resulted in protocols and algorithms to ensure evidence-based Suboxone treatment was delivered to over one thousand First Nation clients. With his guidance we are creating ‘practice-based evidence’ for the treatment of opioid addiction in the Aboriginal population,” says Katt.
A number of staff members wrote letters in support of Dr. Samokhvalov for this award. Dr. Julie Irving, a psychologist with AMS, wrote:
“Since I have worked with him I have observed him regularly coming in early or staying late to meet with CAMH clients, as well as staff for additional case consultation or treatment planning. He is always willing to promptly answer questions by email, take emergency phone calls, and make additional time for patients in crisis.”
“Our shared patients have often commented on how they feel cared about and invested in by ‘Dr. Sam’ and have noted that his warmth and sense of humor are assets.”
Dr. Jurgen Rehm is the director of SER at CAMH and writes, “This program has been applauded and has made it into a report in Lancet. What is primary in my view were the efforts of Dr. Samokhvalov in helping this program to get a head start, in agreeing to teach some principles first, consult freely when problems arose, independent of the time of day (or night), and his care that all the details of clinical practice were actually translated as best as possible into the Northern communities, where MDs are not present regularly. I think such an effort is exemplary”.
For his part, Dr. Samokhvalov says he’s humbled by the recognition. “I think that it’s a really great honour and great luck for me to receive this award because all the physicians I work with, they’re very well established clinicians and researchers and they all deserve recognition and it just so happened this year I received this award. It’s really big for me and it’s a huge responsibility because it makes you even more responsible for what you’re doing and how you’re doing your job.”
Dr. Samokhvalov immigrated to Canada from Ukraine just six years ago. “Ten years ago I would never believe I could think about such an opportunity, that I would be in Canada helping to establish addiction treatment programs on a First Nation reserve. To receive this level of recognition for a foreign-trained physician is a really big achievement.”
“Six years ago, I just came to Canada. I wasn’t even sure if I was ever going to be able to be a physician. I had an opportunity to work with absolutely amazing people, both clinicians and researchers. Thank you to all the people with whom I work and who set great examples for me.”