First recipient awarded Dr. Reg L. Perkin Undergraduate Award

Jul 26, 2019

At the 2019 University of Toronto MD Program Graduation Ceremony, Dr. Laura Cummings became the first recipient of the Dr. Reg L. Perkin Undergraduate Award, a new award created by University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine (DFCM) in celebration of the Department’s 50th Anniversary. This award is named in honour of Dr. Reginald L. Perkin, the first Chair of DFCM when it was founded in 1969, and is presented to an undergraduate student enrolled in their final year of the MD Program at the University of Toronto and who has demonstrated excellence in and intent to specialize in family medicine.

We spoke with Dr. Cummings about her interest in family medicine, what the award means to her, and what her next steps are.

What did winning the award mean to you?

It meant a lot to me. It was such an honour and privilege to stand there with Dr. Perkin, who I had known about for many years, and to hear about all the wonderful things that he's done. Dr. Perkin is someone who has really laid out the foundation of family medicine, and to be recognized as somebody who hopefully tried to contribute to the future of this discipline was so meaningful – especially with all my friends, family, and mentors present.

Did you always know you wanted to do family medicine?

I actually was not sure. When I first went into medical school, I really wanted to keep an open mind. I soon realized how much family medicine aligned with what I believe great medicine was and with what I was interested in. I found that in every rotation that I did, I always loved bits and pieces of everything and it felt like family medicine put together the whole picture.

What I love about family medicine is that you get to see something new every day. I found that when I was on internal medicine, I missed seeing young children, and then when I was on pediatrics, I missed the aspect of caring for people towards the end of their life or in older adulthood. One of the things I really liked about family medicine was that you get to know people as people and not just as diseases or pathologies to be fixed. The focus is on working with the patient and having a therapeutic relationship with them over time, which I thought was wonderful.

What are your next steps?

One of the things that drew me so much to family practice is how expansive and broad it is. I think in some ways it is a little bit of a blessing and a curse: I have a lot of trouble deciding where I'd like to be, but there are a lot of options. I think that no matter where I am, I’m really excited to be involved in teaching/mentorship and helping train future physicians, residents, and medical students just as I was taught throughout my medical school years at U of T and will be taught throughout residency as well.

I want to give my utmost thanks and gratefulness to Dr. Perkin and everyone who was a part of this award. I’m extremely grateful to everyone who was involved throughout my years at U of T and also to those who came before me and laid the foundation for all of us in family practice.