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History

Dr WE Spoerel

Dr. WE Spoerel, FRCP(C)

Excerpts taken from Dr. W. Spoerel's "Department of Anaesthesia, Western University."

Western University was founded in 1878 by Bishop Isaac Hellmuth and the Anglican Diocese of Huron. Three years later the medical school was establised. The early Faculty of Medicine at the University of Western Ontario had been of questionable quality until it was re-organized in 1913. This was the result of the Flexnor Report on Medical Schools in North America released in 1910. In 1914, the Department of Pharmacology was created and within it Dr. G. L. Jepson and Dr. G. W. A. Aitken were responsible for teaching anesthesia to students. Anesthesia was removed from Pharmacology in 1924. At this time Dr. G. L. Jepson was promoted to Associate Professor and was assisted by Drs. F. C. Ferguson, A. C. Graham, R. S. Ferguson, G. W. A. Aitken and later, Dr. J. A. Blezard.

In 1949, Dr. J. A. Blezard, who had moved to London from Edmonton in 1937, took over from Dr. Jepson. He was promoted to Professor and a separate Department of Anesthesia became a reality. He was the first physician to practice Anesthesia exclusively and served as Professor and Chief of Anesthesia at Victoria Hospital until 1958.

Prior to 1949 there was little formal training of the resident staff. Although courses were developed in Montréal, Quebec City and Toronto because of the demand for anesthetists during World War II, there was no specialized training at Western University until the mid-1950's.

One of the first residents at Western in the mid-1950's was Dr. Wolfgang Spoerel. In 1958 he was made the Head of the Western Department and the Chief of Anesthesia at Victoria Hospital. It was during his tenure that research flourished and the training programs expanded. There were many changes in clinical practice that were developed at Western during this period. He encouraged his colleagues to develop innovative methods of care. With his cross-appointment in Pharmacology, he collaborated with Dr. Charles Gowdey on a number of studies. A number of publications (link to Historical Publications) indicate the direction that the department took in leading change in Canada. In 1961, Dr. Spoerel contributed to the formation of the Anaesthesia Associates of London (link to Anesthesia Practice in London Prior to 1962).

With the need to expand the educational aspect of the department to meet the needs of the catchment area, more effort was put into the undergraduate curriculum for the medical students, coordinated by Dr. Gordon Sellery. He also developed the initial core curriculum for the resident program, which was refined and expanded by Drs. Muir, Caldwell, and Fuller. Continuing medical education in Anesthesia was spearheaded by the founding of the Southwestern Ontario Anesthetists' Society by Dr. Pat Clancy and continued by Drs. Russell, Lee and Sellery.

Please refer to the Department Annual Report for more recent publications.