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Shared Health Pathologist Named Doctors Manitoba’s Physician of the Year

Dr. Ken von Kuster is first pathologist to claim prestigious award

For the first time in its 31-year history, Doctors Manitoba has presented its Physician of the Year award to a pathologist.

The organization announced Dr. Ken von Kuster, a general pathologist for Shared Health at Winnipeg’s Victoria General Hospital, as its winner of the annual award at a virtual gala on Dec. 10. The honour is given annually to a Doctors Manitoba member who has made a “significant contribution to the practice of medicine and/or to the community.”

Von Kuster said he is flattered to be the first pathologist to receive this prestigious award.

“It’s not just great for me, but for the specialty in general – for pathology and for laboratory medicine,” said von Kuster. “There’s a lot of stuff that goes on here to help the health of Manitoba patients. We do a lot of good work as a specialty and as a discipline, so it’s great for us to be recognized.”

Von Kuster, who trained in general pathology, functions in large part as a surgical pathologist. While he doesn’t work directly with patients, von Kuster is busy behind the scenes, looking under a microscope at biopsies and surgical samples to help attending physicians develop a patient’s diagnosis and create a treatment plan.

While the work of a pathologist often is unheralded, they provide essential analysis that properly informs the diagnosis and prognosis for patients they never meet. Von Kuster’s passion for his work and dedication to providing fellow physicians with timely analysis are likely reasons why he was named Physician of the Year, said Gabor Fischer, clinical medical director for Shared Health.

“Dr. von Kuster has earned tremendous respect from his peers in the clinician community, providing outstanding consultation services and significantly contributing to multidisciplinary activities,” said Fischer. “This award provides an opportunity for the physician community to celebrate an outstanding individual from a specialty that is often under-recognized. I can’t think of a pathologist that is more deserving of this award than Ken.”

For von Kuster, the career path that led him to this honour was a happy accident of sorts. After initially considering radiation oncology, then having some experience with internal medicine, von Kuster said he recognized he wasn’t well-suited for those disciplines and needed to develop a “backup plan.”

“That’s where pathology came in – and it’s the best thing that ever happened to me,” he said. “Pathology is great in the sense of being able to look at a sample and give a diagnosis and really help out with the consulting and guiding in the further management of a patient – I can take my time and focus on the individual cases as needed without the stress of having a waiting room or a ward full of patients waiting to see me.

“It’s a great fit and I couldn’t imagine doing anything else at this point.

For more information on Doctors Manitoba and its full list of award winners, go to the Doctors Manitoba website.

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