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Ted Osmun receives Canada's 2014 Family Physicians of the Year Award

With firm belief that rural family medicine requires a specialized skillset, Dr. Ted Osmun is dedicated to training family practitioners to be able to provide the best possible care in rural locations.

Dr. Osmun’s passion for rural family medicine stems from his own personal experience, having provided services on Baffin Island in the arctic, on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario, and most recently in Mount Brydges and Strathroy on the outskirts of London. Because of the lack of access to specialists in these more isolated locations, family physicians often have to fill multiple roles.

“I’ve always worked rurally,” said Dr. Osmun. “I find the practice in Mount Brydges and Strathroy isn’t that different than when I was more isolated. In these locations you have to be prepared to do more procedures, work in the emergency departments, in the hospital and in the clinic.”

This dedication to rural family medicine earned Dr. Osmun, Associate Professor of Family Medicine at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, the prestigious honour of being named one of the College of Family Physicians of Canada’s (CFPC) 2014 Family Physicians of the Year.

“He is a comprehensive family physician whose experiences in a variety of rural and regional settings has allowed him to evolve into a physician and mentor that understands the complexity of patient's lived experiences as well as a learner's journey through medical education,” said Dr. George Kim, Assistant Dean of Rural & Regional Medicine at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.

The award recipients are nominated by their peers, colleagues, and the CFPC’s 10 provincial chapters for outstanding patient care, significant contributions to the health and well-being of their local community, and commitment to family medicine teaching and research.

“The nomination was initiated by former students, former residents and now colleagues, so I think from that point-of-view it was those who really knew me well, and that was particularly meaningful to me,” he said.

Family Physician Dr. Eric Wong was a resident training with Dr. Osmun in a clinic that served a number of first nations reserves in southwestern Ontario, where he says the social determinants of health were very challenging. Wong said there were times where common ground was difficult to reach with patients, and positive health outcomes were not being seen.

“During times when I felt frustrated and helpless during my training, Dr. Osmun reminded me that one of the jobs of the family physician is to be there through thick and thin and that a physician needs to accept that there are times when our patients are not ready for change, but that does not mean that change is not possible in the future," Dr. Wong said.

As a proud alumnus of Western University, Dr. Osmun has watched the program evolve over the years to involve a much more robust focus on rural and regional medicine. “Now, we have all of these great rural programs, and there are many ways that students can get the training they need to practise rurally," he said. "When we meet former residents that are now practicing in rural locations, that always makes me proud."