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Dr. Robert Sers
Leadership Excellence

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L-R: Dr. Robert Sers, Dr. Bernard Badley, Award Presenter and Medical Director, CCNS's Colon Cancer Prevention Program

Unassuming, and respectful of others, Dr. Robert Sers, a general surgeon from Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority (GASHA) and recipient of the 2012 Leadership Excellence Award, has all the attributes of a good leader. He began his career as a family doctor and after seven years returned to Dalhousie University to train as a surgeon. He returned to his hometown of Antigonish in 1998 and has been practicing as a community surgeon ever since.

Dr. Sers’ interest in colon cancer prevention and screening grew from a realization that the disease was common in Nova Scotia and seemed even more common in GASHA. From his practice he realized that individuals at high risk for the disease, who had polyps removed, did well and he was interested in finding out if screening would be effective in the average risk group. Dr. Sers formed partnerships with the nursing department at St. Francis Xavier University and others to collect and analyze data to gain a better understanding of what he perceived as the problem. With data to support a way forward, he and his team developed a local awareness campaign, which ran each fall in GASHA, to talk about the benefits of screening to prevent colon cancer and find it early and to encourage people to be screened. The campaign was successful and Dr. Sers later shared his knowledge and expertise, helping Cancer Care Nova Scotia plan and implement Nova Scotia's population-based Colon Cancer Prevention Program. He worked to ensure his district had the necessary supports to be an early adopter in March 2009.

Leading by sharing knowledge and advice, leading by example, leading by participating as a member on a team, leading through a commitment to life-long learning…Dr. Sers is a comfortable, competent and accomplished leader. He was among the first to participate in the colonoscopy master class program, which provides hands-on practice to enhance the skills of experienced colonoscopists. His words of advice on becoming a good leader, “Good ideas are everywhere and anyone can have a good idea…. If you have an interest in a field or an idea about how to improve something, do something about it,” he says. “Ask the question, how can we make it better? Then start…people will follow. Everyone wants to be part of making something better.”

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