A good thing

“It’s a good gig,” said Dale Ziter, MD’82. “Still after 33 years, I love getting up in the morning and going to work and I love looking after my patients,” he added with a large grin, while reflecting on his career.

It’s what he hopes his students witness when they work with him.

And by all accounts they do. This year, Dr. Ziter’s students and residents, along with his patients and many of his colleagues in London and Windsor, nominated him for the Regional Family Physician of the Year Award, presented by Ontario College of Family Physicians.

Dr. Ziter was justly flattered, although he says he generally prefers to fly under the radar. “I get my kicks from the students and patients,” he said. “The fact that so many of my students and patients thought so much of me to write letters on my behalf was really an honour.” He says one of the letters was so touching it brought him to tears.

The beloved physician has been a faculty member for 15 years, getting started when Windsor was designated a rural site for the family medicine residency program. He began his role with one resident casually and the medical school then reached out and asked if he could take more. Once the distributed component was raised, additional residents began to be trained in Windsor.

With some trepidation, Dr. Ziter then became the lead for the family medicine program in Windsor. “I always loved teaching,” he said. “I wasn’t sure if I was the guy to be the administrator, but it’s worked out fairly well.”

A decade and a half later, and Dr. Ziter hasn’t seen much change in the students themselves. Apart from the fact that everyone is “connected”, and that information is more readily available than ever, he finds that the students continue to be just as enthusiastic as ever about their residency.

Dr. Ziter feels he gains as much as he gives as a faculty member. His students recharge him, and he enjoys their enthusiastic approach to learning.

At the same time, he learns even more about his patients while working with students. “My students remind me to have patience and be thorough,” he said.

Meanwhile, his most important piece of advice to his students is to listen. “Everybody is well versed in communication, but we don’t often study listening. I tell my students to be quiet and let the patient tell you the problem,” he said.

A sports junkie with a love of the outdoors, hockey, basketball and softball, Dr. Ziter also models a balanced lifestyle for his students – a critical success factor for any physician.

He is equally proud to be receiving the Regional Family Physician of the Year Award as he is of the family medicine residency program in Windsor. “Windsor has a fantastic medical community, both from a clinical and teaching aspect,” he said. “I feel good about our residency program, we fill our spots every year, our community welcomes the residents, it’s a good thing.”