Dr. James Rourke, dean of Medicine at Memorial University, will receive a Rural Leadership Award on April 17 from the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC). The award will be 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. He can often be spotted at the medical school choir practice, the annual Monte Carlo Charity Gala, or simply chatting with students in the hallway. You can always count on him to give a smile and hello.”
Ms. Cutler added, “Dr. Rourke is both liked and respected by students because he continues to be approachable, reasonable, has the interest of the students in mind, and is an active participant in enriching our education.”
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.”
Dr. Rourke is a champion for rural medicine nationally and internationally. He has helped SRPC develop the national rural health strategy, present the strategy to the Parliamentary Standing committee on Human Resources, Social Development and Persons with Disabilities and convince the council of the deans of the medical schools in Canada to adopt the strategy in principle.
“We looked at all he’s done – not only as dean of Medicine at Memorial but the work he’s done to improve rural health care nationally and internationally,” said Dr. Jong. “At Memorial we are lucky to have a dean who is a rural doctor.”
This is the third time the SRPC has honoured a Canadian doctor with the Rural Leadership Award.
Dr. Rourke has received many other honours and awards, including the College of Family Physicians of Canada, W. Victor Johnston (2007) “to honour renowned Canadian or international family physicians who have made an outstanding leadership contribution to the discipline of family medicine in Canada or abroad,” the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario Council Award College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario Council Award (2004) “to honour outstanding Ontario physicians who have demonstrated excellence and come closest to meeting society's vision of an ‘ideal physician”’; the D.I Rice Merit Award from the College of Family Physicians of Canada; the UWO Award of Excellence in Teaching by Part-time Faculty; the UWO Martin J. Bass Recognition Award for Exceptional Contribution to Family Medicine; and the Community Teacher of the Year from the Ontario College of Family Physicians. He has had more than 90 medical journal articles (most peer reviewed) published.