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Founder of Memorial’s medical school earns place of honor


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Dr. Ian Rusted

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.

By Ms. 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.

Every year, the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame elevates a select few Canada’s most brilliant minds to laureate status. Laureates are those who have pushed the boundaries of discovery and innovation beyond the realm of possibility to make the world a better place.

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, under-served 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 focused 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, immediate 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 the Memorial’s modern and growing Faculty of Medicine.

“Dr. Rusted’s life was dedicated to improving the health of Newfoundlanders,” said Dr. Fitzgerald. “His contribution to medical education in Canada is outstanding   he built a medical school that continues to serve the needs of Newfoundland and Labrador within a national and global context.”

Dr. Tom Noseworthy, a professor of health policy and management with Community Health Sciences at the University of Calgary, was in the first class of Memorial’s medical graduates. “I remember Dr. Rusted as a humble and soft-spoken man who was also an iconic figure who commanded a respect and following from many because of his inimitable and wonderful personal characteristics. He made each medical student feel special, through an innate ability to connect with individuals at a personal level and to allow them to feel understood and recognized.”

Ian Rusted was born in Upper Island Cove, Newfoundland, on July 12, 1921 and died in St. John’s on July 14, 2007. Following high school in Carbonear and St. John’s, he attended Memorial University College for a pre-medical diploma from 1938-40, followed by a BA from Trinity College, University of Toronto, in 1943. He then completed a medical degree and rotating internship at Dalhousie University in 1948, followed by a M.Sc. from McGill University in 1949. Following postgraduate experience at the Mayo Foundation, he chose to return to what had now become the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.

Serving as medical consultant to the Department of Health and director of medical education at the General Hospital, Dr. Rusted’s top priority was visiting cottage hospitals and other provincial institutions, working closely with rural doctors. During this period he collected information regarding the possibility of a new medical school in Atlantic Canada. He never wavered in his determination to see a medical school established at Memorial University, despite sometimes fierce opposition.

With remarkable foresight, strategic timing and courage, he led a carefully planned campaign to establish the much-needed medical school. 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 medical school at Memorial 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.

With Dr. Rusted’s appointment as the first dean of medicine in 1967, he sought to achieve excellence through radical changes in medical school curriculum and organization, and through appointment of faculty drawn from Newfoundland, Canada and abroad. Based on his ideals, Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine is non-departmental and the matrix structure he established has led to close co-operation between the clinical disciplines, biomedical sciences, and community health and humanities.

Dr. Rusted was the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including three honorary degrees (Dalhousie University, 1978; Mount Allison University, 1983; and Memorial University, 2001). He was named the 1979 St. John’s Citizen of the Year and in 1989 received Honorary Life Membership from the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association. In 1992 he was awarded title of Master of the American College of Physicians.

In addition to Dr. Rusted, the 2013 inductees are Dr. Antoine Hakim, Dr. David MacLennan, and Dr. Bette Stephenson, all of Ontario; Dr. Arnold Naimark, Manitoba; and, Dr. Claude Roy, Quebec. They will join the ranks of the 95 laureates who have been similarly recognized since 1994.

“These remarkable individuals have earned their place of honour among Canada’s most distinguished medical heroes. Their legacy will live on through the Hall of Fame where people everywhere can learn about their great service to humankind and be inspired to follow in their footsteps,” said Dr. Stewart Hamilton, Board Chair of the Hall of Fame, during the announcement of inductees in October. “This year’s inductees have overcome incredible challenges to improve the lives of countless others and as fellow Canadians we can be extremely proud.”

The NLMA will send two delegates to the 2013 Induction Ceremony in Halifax on May 2.

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