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Rural Leadership Award for dean of Medicine

By Sharon Gray

Dr. James Rourke, dean of Medicine at Memorial University, received a Rural Leadership Award on April 17 from the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC). The award was presented during a SRPC conference in Halifax.

Dr. Michael Jong, chair of the Nominations and Awards Committee for SRPC, said nominations for this award were received from across Canada, and Dr. Rourke was recognized as an outstanding leader in rural medicine and education. The nomination came from medical students, residents and the group of doctors at Happy Valley-Goose Bay.

Sarah Cutler, a MUN medical student, said “Dr. Rourke is a wonderful example of a dean who has helped to enrich the lives of this medical school's students. He has been a teacher and mentor to many students through both academics and extracurricular activities. He has been extremely well received by students as a guest lecturer for various medicine courses and teaching clinical skills. And, though surely busy, he takes the time to attend and take interest in student led activities and fundraisers.”

Dr. Rourke grew up on a farm and attended a one-room rural public school. He graduated with his MD from the University of Western Ontario in 1976, where he completed his family medicine training in 1978 and his master’s of clinical science (family medicine) in 1993. He is certified by the College of Family Physicians of Canada in family medicine (1978) and emergency medicine (1985) and was awarded a fellowship in 1990.

Dr. Rourke was an active rural family physician (including obstetrics and emergency work) in Goderich, Ontario for 25 years with his wife and partner Dr. Leslie Rourke.

Dr. Rourke has a long-standing interest in rural medicine and medical education and is a recognized leader at provincial, national and international levels. As project director, Medical Education Design Team (2000-2001), for the Northern Ontario (Rural) Medical School Project proposal, he was very involved in the initial development work that led to approval to build the Northern Ontario Medical School. He was chair of the WONCA (World Organization of Family Doctors) Working Party in Rural Practice that has organized seven world rural health conferences and was involved in developing a joint WONCA/WHO project “Health for All Rural People.”

This is the third time the SRPC has honoured a Canadian doctor with the Rural Leadership Award.

Fellowship awards for five doctors

The Society of Rural Physician of Canada (SRPC) awarded the Fellowship in Rural and Remote Medicine (FRRMS) to five physicians in Newfoundland and Labrador during the 17th Rural and Remote Medicine Conference in Halifax over the weekend.

Dr. James Rourke, dean of Medicine; Dr. Leslie Rourke, Family Medicine; Dr. Conleth O’Maonaigh, a physician in Fogo and winner of the 1997 Yong Kee Jeon Award for Excellence in teaching from the Discipline of Family Medicine; Dr. Trudy O’Keefe, past president of the Newfoundland and Labrador Chapter of the College of Family Physicians of Canada; and Dr. Judith Ophel, a doctor at the Labrador Health Centre, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, and the 2008 Family Physician of the Year for the province, received the FRRMS for their dedication to the profession and acquired expertise.

Fellowships in Rural and Remote Medicine recognize doctors who have worked in rural and remote Canada for at least 10 years and are a member of SRPC for at least five years. Because rural doctors practice a distinct form of medicine that has many challenges and requires a varied skill set and an ability to work under sometimes difficult circumstance, the SRPC created the FRRMS.