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Who Was Dr. Ricky Kanee Schachter?

Dr. Ricky Kanee Schachter

The patients would all breathe a sigh of relief that she had arrived and break into smiles because they knew that this doctor would be the one to cure them.

That’s what she did for the patients over the years in the clinic – she gave them hope – even when things looked hopeless. She had, and still has, the sympathetic understanding, not only for their health and dermatological problems but also for their social problems and their everyday anxieties.

Written on the occasion of Dr. Schachter’s retirement in 1985 by a nurse at Women’s College Hospital.

After graduating with a medical degree from the University of Toronto in 1943 and completing postgraduate studies in dermatology at Columbia University, Dr. Ricky Schachter joined the staff of Women’s College Hospital and launched the hospital’s first formal dermatology program consisting of two  weekly outpatient clinics. In 1946 she was appointed head of the hospital’s newly established division of dermatology and over the next few years Dr. Schachter became instrumental in expanding and developing the hospital’s dermatology program into a strong clinical and teaching unit.  She is recognized as the first woman head of an academic division of dermatology in Canada.

Throughout her career Dr. Schachter was dedicated to continued research and to the improvement of medical treatment in the field of dermatology. She authored dozens of medical journal articles and conducted seminar presentations internationally. She also maintained a strong commitment to education through her teaching of undergraduate and graduate medical students and her leadership in designing and administering the hospital’s dermatological curriculum. She was appointed associate professor in the department of medicine, University of Toronto in 1965.

In 1950 Dr. Schachter was appointed a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons (Dermatology).  She was elected as the first woman president of the Canadian Dermatology Association in 1978 and was a founding member and first president of the Toronto Dermatological Association. In 1989 she received the Life Time Achievement Award of Merit from the Toronto Dermatological Society and the Glen Sawyer Service Award from the Ontario Medical Association. In recognition of her outstanding contributions to the medical profession and to the community, Dr. Schachter received the Order of Canada in February 1998.  In 2005 she became the first female to be honoured as “Practitioner of the Year” by the Canadian Dermatology Foundation and in 2006 she received an honourary doctor of laws degree from Queens University.

At Women’s College Hospital, Dr. Schachter, a strong supporter of achieving excellence in patient care, pioneered the Psoriasis Education and Research Clinic (PERC), a prototype outpatient clinic for chronic skin diseases. This comprehensive program for psoriasis treatment and research was launched on May 26, 1976 and became the first program of its kind in Canada. Dr. Schachter was appointed its first director.

In June 1985 Dr. Schachter retired from her position as chief of dermatology and the Dr. Rickey Kanee Schachter Dermatology Fund was established in recognition of her commitment to patient care. The fund was used to establish an outpatient dermatology centre at Women’s College Hospital which officially opened on November 1, 1991 and was named the Ricky Kanee Schachter Dermatology Centre.

Dr. Schachter has played an important role in the history of Women’s College Hospital and in the field of dermatology. To honour Dr. Schachter’s memory a donation can be made to the Ricky Kanee Schachter Fund through the Women’s College Hospital Foundation at 416-323-6323 or click here to donate online.

PHOTO: Dr. Ricky Schachter, 1959. 
Photo courtesy of Cavouk Portraits.

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