CONFERENCE: 2024 Chris Carruthers Excellence in Medical Leadership Award

Dr. Curtis Johnston

Deputy Zone Medical Director, Edmonton Zone, Alberta Health Services

Dr. Curtis Johnston has made significant contributions to medical leadership throughout his career, leaving a profound impact on the healthcare systems across Alberta. Serving in various leadership roles, including hospital Site Chief of both Medicine and Critical Care, Facility Medical Director, and Deputy Zone Medical Director for the Edmonton Zone, Dr. Johnston has demonstrated exceptional leadership abilities and a steadfast commitment to the development of medical leaders.

As Facility Medical Director, Dr. Johnston prioritized the development of medical leaders through personalized coaching, physician leadership seminar series, and annual medical leadership retreats. These initiatives, acclaimed for their practicality and effectiveness, provided emerging and established medical leaders with valuable insights and skills to navigate the complexities of healthcare leadership, fostering a supportive environment for critical discussions and collaboration, and creating a community of medical leaders.

Dr. Johnston’s commitment to enhancing his own leadership skills is evident through his extensive involvement in courses, conferences, and obtaining his Certified Executive Coach Designation. His leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic as the Senior Medical Advisor for the Provincial Emergency Coordination Center garnered widespread recognition, earning him the title of Physician of the Year by the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association and a Queen Elizabeth II Platinum Jubilee Medal.

Furthermore, Dr. Johnston’s contributions extend beyond his immediate healthcare setting. He initiated a Virtual Medical Leadership Development series, initially offered to physicians in Edmonton, but due to its popularity is now open to physicians across the province. These sessions provide an invaluable opportunity to network with other medical leaders, discuss complex situations, and to learn from each other in a peer-to-peer, nonhierarchical

environment. He launched a complementary “Critical Conversation Series,” equipping physician leaders with strategies to effectively navigate challenging conversations.

In terms of cultivating leadership capacity, Dr. Johnston developed and delivers the New Physician Orientation program, compulsory for new physicians joining Alberta Health Services. Additionally, he offers individual coaching sessions to medical leaders, providing tailored support to address complex issues. This personalized coaching represents a unique and innovative approach to medical leadership development and growth.

Dr. Curtis Johnston’s leadership journey is characterized by his unwavering dedication to advancing medical leadership, fostering collaboration, and driving positive change within the healthcare system. His achievements and contributions have left an indelible mark on medical leadership development in Alberta.

“Dr. Johnston is one of those rare leaders who has earned and engenders trust, embodies humility and compassion, and has steadfastly committed himself to the improvement of those he leads.” – Dr. Kathryn Dong