Canadian Medical Association

Dr. Antoine Payot

Antoine Payot

Every day, medical professionals at Centre hospitalier universitaire (CHU) Sainte-Justine face difficult ethical situations involving prenatal diagnosis, the care of premature infants, pediatric complex care and mortality.

Dr. Antoine Payot, a pediatrician and neonatologist at CHU Sainte-Justine, spent years studying bioethics. His work emphasized the importance of partnering with patients in complex clinical decision-making involving multiple ethical issues. So, in 2010, when he became director of the Clinical Ethics Unit at CHU Sainte-Justine, he worked to set up an interdisciplinary team to ensure that physicians and caregivers received proper support and training in ethical decision-making and that patients and families were involved in making these critical decisions.

“At CHU Sainte-Justine, the issues surrounding ethics are an absolute priority. Dr. Payot’s contribution and his analytical and empathetic approach are true assets — supporting excellence, consistency and inestimable growth.” – Caroline Barbir, president and CEO, CHU Sainte-Justine

Creating a French-language program in medical ethics

In addition to his clinical work, Dr. Payot set up a postdoctoral teaching and research program at the Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Medicine — one of the first French-language programs to combine ethical theory with real-world experience. Through internships with ultra-specialized hospitals like Sainte-Justine or community hospitals like Cité de la Santé in Laval, Quebec, students learn the “soft” skills needed to deal with complex human situations in clinical ethics consultations.

Because clinical ethics are an important part of everyday care, Dr. Payot introduced patients with lived experience into the program. During various workshops, patient-partners act as co-instructors — informing both clinical ethics students and medical students about the patient perspective and experience of illness, while teaching them how to better communicate and collaborate with patients.

Dr. Payot has gained international attention for his unique pedagogical approach. Currently, he’s creating an online version of his education program, and he plans to collaborate on the development of a clinical ethics program for a hospital in Morocco.

“Dr. Payot is the living personification of clinical ethics at the Faculty of Medicine of the Université de Montréal, in the provincial and national health network and in the Francophonie,” says colleague Dr. Christian Bourdy.

Developing organizational codes of ethics

Dr. Payot’s work in ethics has been foundational in Quebec.

In 2013, he developed a new code of ethics for the Université de Montréal’s Faculty of Medicine, setting out the highest clinical ethics standards for all medical curricula, while promoting the faculty’s values and social responsibility.

And, in 2019, he introduced a new code of ethics at CHU Sainte-Justine for workers and clinicians at all levels of the organization, as well as patients and families — an inclusive approach to clinical ethics in health care.

Dr. Antoine Payot is receiving the Dr. William Marsden Award in recognition of his exemplary leadership, commitment and dedication to advancing and promoting excellence in medical ethics and professionalism in Canada.

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