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Powell River's Dr. David May receives provincial award

Physician honoured for spending his career making things better through system change
SUPPORTED PATIENTS: Dr. David May has been given a lifetime achievement award from the Rural Coordination Centre of BC for spending his career making things better through system change.

Longtime local physician Dr. David May has been honoured with a lifetime achievement award from the 2023 BC Rural Health Awards.

According to a media release from the Rural Coordination Centre of BC, May is a rural generalist who has spent his career making things better through system change, and is being honoured with the award. 

The release stated that May has steadfastly supported rural patients in the face of a global pandemic, mental health challenges, a toxic drug supply, a health care labour shortage, maternity care challenges and systemic racism.

While providing longitudinal care to his patients, May practiced obstetrics for 10 years, emergency for 15 years, and anesthesia for around 30 years. He also taught and consulted in the areas of chronic pain and palliative care, was a founding member of Pain BC, as well as a board member of Four Tides Hospice Society.

During his 12 years on the qathet Division of Family Practice board, May worked to maintain and strengthen local primary health care services. An advocate for health equity, he constantly amplified the rural voice, including publishing articles in the British Columbia Medical Journal. 

He also demonstrated exceptional leadership toward truth, reconciliation and decolonization, according to the release. He ensured action was taken after the release of the In Plain Sight report, leading the development of an organizational cultural safety and humility policy, and ensuring the changing of the name of the division to one that was respectful and inclusive.

May was recognized along with three other BC physicians and the District of Sicamous, which is a community that rallied together after it risked losing access to health care.

All award recipients received a cash prize to support a celebration in their home communities.

“The community and physicians we are honouring with these 2023 awards have gone above and beyond to ensure people have access to the health care they deserve,” stated Rural Coordination Centre of BC executive director Dr. Ray Markham. “Alongside the people who live in the communities they serve, we are incredibly grateful for the contributions they have made and will continue to make.” 

Recipients of the lifetime achievement award must be a rural doctor who has served one or more rural communities throughout their career, and significantly impacted provincial, national and/or international rural health.