Duncan Physician wins National Award

Posted on: July 13, 2023
with permission from Cowichan Valley Citizen

Duncan's Dr. Robin Routledge was recently honoured with the Rural Specialist Merit Award from The Society of Rural Physicians of Canada.

The story was shared in the Cowichan Valley Citizen​.

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This annual award, which has been bestowed on small community doctors for the past 30 years, recognizes the invaluable contributions of individuals and organizations in advancing rural medicine in Canada. After being nominated by a colleague this past fall, and careful consideration, the SRPC nominations and award committee announced that Routledge was one of this year's award winners during the society's 30th Annual Rural and Remote Medicine course.

"It felt unreal at first, then embarrassing — like undeserved with so many others more worthy — then I accepted the process because I was not the motor driving this," said Routledge. "I realized this is an award to my community and physicians like me."

SRPC's president Dr. Sarah Lespérance, and chair of the nominations and award committee Dr. Trina Larsen Soles presented the award to Dr. Routledge at their annual gala and national event which was held on April 21, in Niagara Falls, Ont.

"I hope that local doctors, and healthcare workers realize that we are part of something larger and that we are not forgotten, and can be noticed," said Routledge as he accepted his award. "Also, and importantly, that there is such a thing as the SRPC and that it can touch us, as well as us touch it."

For the last 40 years Routlege has been serving as a psychiatrist in the traditional, unceded territory of the Cowichan Tribes in Duncan. Over the course of his career he has both worked and played across this rural community providing care and improved mental health to some of the community's most vulnerable members out of the Cowichan Lodge Tertiary Mental Health Facility, providing team-based mental health care as a community psychiatrist.

Throughout his own medical journey, he has mentored generations of medical learners, rural generalists and rural specialists across the Cowichan Valley. Highlights of Routledge's career as a rural psychiatrist include collaborating with global experts to bring the Milan approach on family therapy to the Cowichan Valley. He has championed mental health and primary care in numerous leadership roles within Island Health, the Cowichan District Medical Society and Cowichan District Hospital Medical Staff Association, Doctors of B.C. and the Rural Coordination Center of BC.

Routledge has not only served many in need throughout the Cowichan Valley, but also on the provincial Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues as a dedicated advocate for rural generalists. The JSC advises government and Doctors of B.C. on enhancing the availability and stability of physician services in rural and remote areas of B.C.

"In 1989 I was the only practicing psychiatrist in Cowichan and realized I could not survive without the committed support of the other physicians. That's when I realized that my survival depended on my commitment to them," said Routledge. "This is a truly significant reward from a very large number of incredible people who have too much to do but did this. The choice of me is amazing, the acknowledgement at the presentation was a powerful endorsement of that choice."