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Founder of Memorial's medical school earns place of honour

Dr. Ian Rusted

By Sharon Gray

The late Dr. Ian Rusted will join the ranks of Canada's distinguished medical heroes when he is inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame on May 2, 2013. He is the first native Newfoundlander to receive this distinction – Sir Wilfred Grenfell was inducted in 1997.

Dr. Rusted is being recognized for establishing Newfoundland and Labrador's only medical school, which to this day is a world leader in medical education. What makes this singular accomplishment so remarkable is the vision and perseverance it took to establish a medical school in a poor, underserved province at a time when all of Canada's medical schools were located in large, resource-rich cities.

Since its inception 45 years ago, Memorial's Faculty of Medicine continues to address one of the world's greatest health challenges: how to effectively train and inspire doctors to serve patients in rural and remote communities. Today the legacy and spirit of Dr. Rusted lives on in more than 2,000 medical graduates who are scattered across Newfoundland and Labrador and throughout the world caring for the needs of humanity wherever they may be.

"When I became dean of medicine at Memorial in 2004 and met with Dr. Rusted, it became clear to me that the medical school had been established on a foundation of social accountability," said Dr. James Rourke. "From the beginning, Memorial's medical school focussed on engaging and responding to the health needs of the people of Newfoundland and Labrador and its innovative curriculum provided learning experiences in communities throughout the province."

Dr. William Fitzgerald, past president of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and a clinical professor of surgery at Memorial, said Dr. Rusted is a sterling example of a physician, academic, scientist, humanitarian, effective administrator and team builder whose fierce commitment to his province and the country endures in Memorial's modern and growing Faculty of Medicine.

Ian Rusted was born in Upper Island Cove, N.L., on July 12, 1921, and died in St. John's on July 14, 2007. He earned his MD at Dalhousie University and a M.Sc. at McGill University; following postgraduate experience at the Mayo Foundation he chose to return to what had now become the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

He led a carefully planned campaign to establish Memorial's medical school and when final approval was committed from federal and provincial sources, provision was included for both a medical school and a teaching hospital – a Health Sciences Centre. A unique funding model has seen the Faculty of Medicine funded directly from the provincial Department of Health, setting it aside from other areas of the university which are funded by the Department of Education.

Dr. Rusted was the recipient of numerous awards and honours, including three honorary degrees (Dalhousie University, 1978; Mount Allison University, 1983; and Memorial University, 2001).