Dr. John Tallon receives Excellence in Medical Leadership Award

2022 Canadian Society of Physician Leaders (CSPL) Excellence in Medical Leadership Award (Chris Carruthers Award) – Dr. John M. Tallon, Co-Head, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of British Columbia

This award is the result of me having many opportunities, during my career across four provinces, of working with many very motivated professionals who used their talents and dedication to make a significant and positive difference in patient care and improving health care systems. It was my pleasure to work with these individuals, teams and departments and to learn from them while using my leadership positions to further enable their expertise and enthusiasm in a framework of independence with clear accountability for patient outcomes and quality metrics.

– Dr. John Tallon 

Dr. Tallon has been a pioneer in trauma care and prehospital medicine across Canada for over a quarter-century. He has not only advanced these fields by designing systems of care and conducting research, but he has also developed a long lineage of future leaders through his mentorship and coaching.

After graduating from the University of Toronto’s medical school with honours, Dr. Tallon completed specialty training, becoming a Fellow of Emergency Medicine with the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada after training in Calgary. He also earned a master’s degree in epidemiology and community health from Dalhousie University. He has held numerous clinical, academic, and administrative positions, and is currently a clinical professor and co-head of the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of British Columbia. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine and holds cross appointments as an adjunct professor in the Departments of Surgery, Anaesthesia and Community Health and Epidemiology, all at Dalhousie University.

Dr. Tallon was an early advocate for advancing the specialty of emergency medicine in Canada. However, he did not limit his focus to emergency medicine or the interests of physicians. He has also been a strong proponent for developing the fields of prehospital medicine and trauma and the professional role of paramedics. Throughout his career, his research activities and publications have been multidisciplinary collaborations and stand as evidence of his engagement and approach to the practice of medicine. He has used his skills to enshrine a patient focus in both his research and administrative activities.

The trauma and prehospital care systems in Ontario, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia have all been significantly advanced through the leadership roles Dr. Tallon has played in them. For example, he was a crucial leader in developing the first organized trauma system in Nova Scotia. However, his influence extends beyond these provinces. As president of the Trauma Association of Canada, he provided advice and mentorship in developing both trauma systems and their leaders across the country. As an early medical director of BC Emergency Health Services (BCEHS) and its inaugural chief medical officer, Dr. Tallon was a driving force in its evolution from a public safety organization into an integrated component of the health care system. In guiding BCEHS through this transition, he adopted a panoramic view and a holistic approach, engaging people from all specialties and health care professions.

Dr. Tallon has been unfailing and unselfish in promoting those whom he has mentored, both locally and internationally. Several of his mentees have gone on to leadership roles, a testimony to his work. One of his mentees, Dr. Jan Trojanowski, recently wrote:

“Through John’s mentorship and observing his leadership style, I have learned the importance of listening and valuing team members’ experience and input. He weighs these thoughtfully and, where needed, gets the group to come to a consensus either through acceptable compromise or overall agreement. He takes the time to get to know his team members, placing importance on those aspects of their lives that shape their abilities and purpose.”

A version of this story originally appeared on the CSPL website.