Achievement awards

Achievement awards

Nova Scotia is home to many innovative and talented physicians. The association’s annual achievement awards are one way that Doctors Nova Scotia (DNS) celebrates its hard-working, highly skilled, dedicated members.

This year, Doctors Nova Scotia and the Canadian Medical Association honours 11 physicians and one medical student for exemplary achievement.

Distinguished Service Award: Dr. Ajantha Jayabarathan (Dr. AJ) 

Dr. Ajantha Jayabarathan

After 33 impressive years of working in medicine, Dr. Ajantha Jayabarathan (popularly known as Dr. AJ) has been awarded the Distinguished Service Award in recognition of her dedication, compassion, and expertise that has transformed the lives of her patients and played a pivotal role in building capacity and empowering family physicians across Nova Scotia. 

Dr. AJ has a family practice in Herring Cove, Nova Scotia where she goes above and beyond for her patients. When explaining why she chose family medicine, she says “it keeps me challenged to manage care across the human lifespan.” 

Her passion for health equity, health informatics and using geographical information systems to improve healthcare is proven through the work that takes place outside of her practice. In 2021, she created the Nova Scotia Health Geo-View, a virtual mapping tool that helps physicians access socioeconomic data and search for community-based services and other information to help their patients. 

Dr. AJ has also been front and centre in providing essential health information to the community through media. Shortly after starting her practice, she hosted "Housecalls with Dr. AJ” on CTV’s Live at Five and participated in television and radio segments on CBC and the Rick Howe show. She also contributed to several columns to the Chronicle Herald over the years. 

The proudest moment of Dr. AJ’s career was when she was working as a resident at the Saint John Regional Hospital and diagnosed a pituitary adenoma in a patient using clinical history alone. She recalls that “the internist was not convinced but the ER doctor did the imaging and sent me a note confirming the diagnosis.”

Dr. William Grigor Award: Dr. Timothy Holland

Dr. Tim Holland

After more than a decade in practice, Dr. Tim Holland is receiving the Dr. William Grigor Award for his advocacy efforts and dedication to ensuring everyone has access to quality healthcare.   

Shortly after graduating from Dalhousie Medical School, Dr. Holland, past President of Doctors Nova Scotia, co-founded the Newcomer Health Clinic, where he now serves as the Medical Lead. Between his role at this Clinic and at his family practice, the Sipekne’katik Health Centre, Dr. Holland works tirelessly caring and advocating for his patients. In commenting on his family medicine journey, he says he is passionate about “getting to know patients through their full life journey” and enjoys the opportunity to “work directly with communities to make positive systemic change.” 

Directly following its legalization in Canada, Dr. Holland became a medical assistance in dying (MAiD) provider and actively contributes to the Nova Scotia Health MAiD Steering Committee and is Chair of Advance Request Working Group for the Canadian Association of MAiD Assessors and Providers. 

Dr. Holland played a pivotal role in founding both the Canadian Refugee Health Network and the Doctors for Decriminalization coalition. He is currently the Head of the Bioethics Department at Dalhousie University and was former Chair of the Ethics Committee for the Canadian Medical Association. 

Known for his humility, Dr. Holland notes that “it's the incredible teams I've worked with that have made this work a reality and they are the source of anything worthwhile that I've ever been fortunate enough to be affiliated with.” 

Beyond his impressive professional achievements, Dr. Holland finds fulfillment in his family life, cherishing his marriage and three children, along with their two lively puppies.

Physician Health Promotion Award: Dr. Daria Manos

Dr. Daria Manos

Radiologist Dr. Daria Manos receives the DNS Physician Health Promotion Award in recognition of her outstanding work with the Nova Scotia Lung Screening Program. She has advocated for a provincial lung cancer screening and prevention program since 2011 in an effort to reduce the number of Nova Scotians dying of lung cancer. “On average, the radiologist on the ‘chest desk’ at the QEII diagnoses one new case of lung cancer each day,” says Dr. Manos.

Dr. Manos has been working as a chest radiologist at the QEII/Dalhousie University for the entirety of her 17-year career, the result of “a series of lucky events,” she says. “I was all set to do family medicine or emergency medicine. I had done electives in very rural locations including northern Canada. I had two weeks of elective time free and thought radiology might be useful for rural medicine. Those two weeks at the Saint John Regional Hospital changed my life.”

Drawn in by the “detective work of radiology and its interdisciplinary nature,” Dr. Manos found the highly nuanced, team-based work to be a good fit, and enjoys working with other radiologists and the health-care providers who consult radiologists.

Dr. Manos has an extensive list of publications, lectures widely, and runs an annual Physician Leadership Workshop for women in radiology. She collaborated with Dr. Carole Dennie (University of Ottawa), to start the Canadian Society of Thoracic Radiology, which now has over 200 members across Canada.

After navigating the “beautiful chaos” of family life with her husband, Dr. Bijon Das, an emergency physician, and her teenage daughters, there’s not a lot of spare time. When there is she enjoys gardening and oil painting.

Community Specialist of the Year Award: Dr. Leo Pereira

Dr. Leo Pereira

Dr. Leo Pereira is receiving the Community Specialist of the Year Award for his excellence in providing diabetes care for patients in rural Nova Scotia.

An internist for 34 years, Dr. Pereira practised at Saint Martha’s Regional Hospital in Antigonish and provided travel clinics in the Eastern Zone, at locations including Victoria County Memorial Hospital in Baddeck, Strait Richmond Hospital in Evanston and Saint Anne’s Centre in Arichat.

Improving health care access for people with diabetes in rural areas was a highlight of his practice. “Especially looking at each person with diabetes as a unique individual needing a personalized plan,” he said. Under his supervision, he improved outcomes and standards of care, educated providers and lowered complications for his patients.

He also provided care in endocrinology, cardiology and gastroenterology, lending support to his colleagues every step of the way. For him, the most rewarding aspect was “finding the words to explain my treatment plans in a way that the patient, nurse or doctor understood, and the ensuing trust in each other that generates.”

As a pillar of the Internal Medicine Department at Saint Martha’s, Dr. Pereira provided care in the ICU, inpatient wards, clinics and his own practice. Early in his career, he debated working in a city or a smaller community.

“Being in Antigonish my entire career is testament to having made the right choice,” he said. “I always felt happy to go to work but also felt happy to go home each day.”

Dr. Pereira retired in December 2023, and relishes being able to spend more time with his family. “I have been blessed to have a wonderful partner, four children and six grandchildren. Travel, sports, gardening and dogs also fulfil my life.”

Community Family Physician of the Year: Dr. Peter Poulos

Dr. Peter Poulos

North Sydney general practitioner Dr. Peter Poulos receives the DNS Community Family Physician of the Year award in recognition of his 42-year career as a primary care physician and, over the past 20 years, as a palliative care physician with the Cape Breton Palliative Care Service, which includes providing patient care in hospital, in the community and in hospice.

“I chose primary care due to the variety of work offered: office practice, emergency room, inpatient care, maternity care and delivery, OR assisting and nursing home care,” says Dr. Poulos. Providing the best possible care to his patients for over four decades is his greatest career accomplishment. “My work in palliative care, providing comfort to patients at that stage in life, has given me great satisfaction and fulfillment.”

Dr. Poulos’s colleagues cite his kindness, compassion, clinical skill and love of teaching as some of the reasons he makes a great general practitioner, also noting his dedication to ensuring that his patients receive the care they need, when they need it, for as long as they need it.

In addition to his primary care and palliative care work, Dr. Poulos also mentors medical learners, teaching Cape Breton–based second year family medicine residents in palliative care, and supports his colleagues with encouragement and advice.

When not working, Dr. Poulos can often be found in the pool – he was a member of the Dalhousie Varsity Swim team for five years and continues to swim on a regular basis. “I compete as a Masters Swimmer and currently hold several provincial records.

Outstanding Medical Student Award: Neha Khanna

Neha Khanna

Third-year medical student Neha Khanna is receiving the Outstanding Medical Student Award for her leadership to integrate equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) into medical curriculum.

In high school, Ms. Khanna saw the systemic barriers her own family members faced to access health care as first-generation immigrants. “This fueled my motivation to pursue a career in health care where I could continue to advocate for and one day provide patient care that is accessible, equitable and inclusive,” she said.

She has applied that drive to her studies at Dalhousie Medical School, working to help foster a more inclusive learning environment. In the role of vice-president of EDI with the Dalhousie Medical Student Society, Ms. Khanna created a guide for faculty on the use of inclusive and first-person language. She presented the guide at the Dalhousie Medical Education Leadership Retreat and participated in national EDI discussions.

Serving underrepresented populations is a calling for Ms. Khanna, who co-established the first Addiction Medicine Interest Group at Dalhousie to help fill a gap in medical curriculum and boost awareness among her peers.

Her biggest joy is working with community organizations like HomeBridge Youth Society. “It has been a privilege to bring together community members and health professionals to showcase the talent of youth in our province and increase awareness of the health priorities that exist for vulnerable populations.”

Looking ahead, Ms. Khanna hopes to practise in Nova Scotia and envisions “a residency and career in medicine that allow me to work within the fields of addiction medicine and women’s health. I see myself in an environment that is dynamic and flexible to meet the priorities of our communities.”

Outstanding Resident Award: Dr. Thomas (Tommy) Brothers

Dr. Tommy Brothers

Dr. Tommy Brothers is receiving the Outstanding Resident Award for his dedication to making a difference with vulnerable populations and his impact as a local leader and changemaker in Nova Scotia.

A PGY-5 subspecialty resident in General Internal Medicine at Dalhousie University, Dr. Brothers says he was “hugely influenced” by role models and mentors over the years. He said, “I appreciate the challenge and privilege of caring for people who experience serious and complex health problems, and I believe in the value of trying to care for the whole person.”

Dr. Brothers’ commitment to caring for the whole person and improving the broader medical system has been exemplified in his creation of an ad hoc addictions medicine consultation service. After identifying a need that was not being met, Dr. Brothers worked with a group of peers to implement this initiative which has evolved to a formal clinical service, greatly improving care for people who use drugs and completely transforming the culture of harm reduction within the QEII Health Sciences Centre. He also helped to organize and implement Atlantic Canada's first supervised consumption site, the HaliFIX Overdose Prevention Site.

Using his passion towards academic productivity and advocacy, Dr. Brothers has published an extensive amount of peer reviewed articles and is a highly influential educator, researcher and speaker.

Dr. Brothers excels in all of this on top of balancing life as a husband and father of two young boys.  

Doctors Nova Scotia Senior Membership Award

Dr. James Chandler

Dr. James Chandler

Psychiatrist Dr. James Chandler is being honoured with the Senior Membership Award for his outstanding contributions providing care to patients in Yarmouth and surrounding communities.

Born and raised in the U.S., Dr. Chandler studied medicine in Minnesota and completed his residency training in Iowa City. “I chose psychiatry because I was very interested in brain, behaviour and related problems,” he said.

In 1988, he and his wife, a family physician, moved to Yarmouth, where they quickly became fixtures of the local medical community.

Over more than 35 years of practice, Dr. Chandler has worked in several capacities at Yarmouth Regional Hospital, including child and adolescent psychiatry, inpatient adult psychiatry, on-call psychiatry on medical-surgical units, and as the lead for the electroconvulsive therapy service. “I enjoy being able to make a difference in the lives of people with various psychiatric disorders,” he said.  

Based in an underserviced region, Dr. Chandler was often the lone child psychiatrist working in southwestern Nova Scotia, a daunting task he took on with vigour to keep mental health services afloat and provide compassionate care to patients and their families despite the challenging circumstances. He is equally committed to supporting his colleagues in their patient care and is always available to provide guidance and reassurance. 

A gifted educator, Dr. Chandler also enjoys mentoring residents and other medical learners as an associate professor at Dalhousie School of Medicine and the lead for psychiatry training with the Southwest Nova family medicine residency program in Yarmouth.

Outside of work, he enjoys music and spending time with his wife, kids and grandkids.

Dr. Shelagh Leahey

Dr. Shelagh Leahey

Dr. Shelagh Leahey receives the coveted DNS Senior Membership Award in recognition of her 47 years of caring for people in Yarmouth and surrounding communities.

Dr. Leahey graduated from Dalhousie Medical School in 1975 and completed one year of family medicine residency before moving to Yarmouth to begin her general practice in October 1976. It was the culmination of a goal she’d had since Grade 9, when she read a Reader’s Digest article about being a doctor. “It seemed the perfect occupation for a person with lots of interests who enjoys helping people and being busy,” said Dr. Leahey. “I have no regret about this choice, as it describes my career to a T.”

In her decades of working in Yarmouth, Dr. Leahey has seen her career transition from family practice (including obstetrical work) to providing palliative care, working in medical administration, and finally helping to establish a family medicine residency training site in South West Nova.

“It is this continuum of care to the same population that I consider my greatest career accomplishment and joy,” said Dr. Leahey. “I have learned so much and received so many expressions of gratitude, snapshots of ‘my 3000 babies’ and life-long connections to generations of families. I often feel I received more than I gave.”

When not working, Dr. Leahey’s passion is travel, and she has taken two self-funded sabbatical years to travel the world. “Repeatedly, I have learned how fortunate we are in Canada to have the health-care system and government that provides us with a safe, supportive environment for families and doctors.”

Canadian Medical Association Honorary Membership Award

Dr. Carol Critchley

Dr. Carol Ann Critchley

Dr. Carol Ann Critchley receives the CMA Honorary Membership Award in recognition of her more than 45-year career as a family medicine physician in Sydney – a temporary move that became permanent. “I thought I would work for a couple of years to make some money and then go back to study in a specialty. However, I loved my work here and I’m so glad I stayed in family medicine.” 

Dr. Critchley worked for many years in the emergency department and provided hospitalist care. “I still do obstetrics and assist in the operating room,” she said. “I also work as a general practitioner in oncology in our cancer centre” – work that has helped in her practice and led to professional connections through the Canadian Association of General Practitioners in Oncology.

“The highlight of my career as a family physician has been getting to know families. My patients have been gracious in trusting me to be there in the happy times as well as the difficult ones,” said Dr. Critchley, who notes that in some cases, she has cared for four generations of the same family.

Dr. Critchley also served as president of medical staff in the Cape Breton District Health Authority and has been involved in the family medicine residency training program since the Cape Breton site opened in 1998. “It has been such a pleasure to see these physicians progress in their training and to work with those who have chosen to stay in the area,” she said. 

When she is not working, Dr. Critchley loves spending time with her two adult sons, their partners and her “absolutely adorable” granddaughter, Allie Caroline. She also plays flute in her community band, paddles with the Sydney Harbour Dragon Boat Club and enjoys sewing.

Dr. Robin Bustin

Dr. Robin Bustin

Dr. Robin Bustin of Berwick, N.S., receives the CMA Honorary Membership Award in recognition of more than 40 years of service to his community as a general practitioner.

After graduating from Dalhousie Medical School in 1980 and completing a rotating internship, Dr. Bustin entered general practice in Berwick in1981, and continued with a full practice until semi-retiring in November 2023. 

Since then, Dr. Bustin has continued to work part time, spending two days per week treating people with opiate use disorder and providing wound care to patients living in long-term care facilities. 

“Working with people with opiate use disorder has been the most gratifying part of my career as I watched people who have lost so much return to a life with meaning,” he said.

“My other special interest has been working with seniors. After nearly 20 years in general practice I trained in geriatrics, eventually earning CCFP designation and certification of added competence in care of the elderly.” 

Dr. Bustin was instrumental in forming the Berwick Family Practice with Dr. Christina Mercer. Over the last decade, that practice has developed into a collaborative practice with several family physicians; it is also a training site for family practice residents. “I have enjoyed working with and mentoring residents over the years and having the opportunity to work with medical students.”  

“My whole career has been based in Berwick, where I have worked, lived and raised our four children with my wife Jane,” said Dr. Bustin. “I hope to continue here for as long as possible. Although I have retired from family practice and miss the regular contact with patients in the office, living in a small town has the advantage of continuing many relationships on a day-to-day basis.”  

Awards presentation

The awards were presented at Doctors Nova Scotia’s 2024 annual conference in June 2024.

2025 nominations

Nominations for the 2025 Achievement Awards will open in summer 2024.

Past winners

Doctors Nova Scotia honoured 12 physicians and one medical student for their contributions to the medical profession in 2023. For a complete list of all physicians honoured in past years, check out this list of achievement award winners.


Melissa Murray
Communications coordinator