Dr. Ian McWhinney Lecture Series

Each fall the Department of Family Medicine at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Western University, hosts the Dr. Ian McWhinney Lecture in memory of the founding chair of the Department and one of the leading thinkers in the discipline of Family Medicine. The inaugural lecture took place on September 23, 2015.

As the founder of one of the first departments of family medicine in Canada Dr. McWhinney introduced the idea that family/general practice was a distinct discipline within medicine. He articulated the philosophy and principles of the new discipline and oversaw the establishment of teaching programs at the undergraduate, postgraduate and graduate level. He led a team of individuals that developed the Patient Centered Clinical Method which is used around the world. The research enterprise that he established helped to provide the knowledge base of Family Medicine.

In honor of his work, Dr. McWhinney was recognized as an outstanding educator by the Association of Canadian Medical Colleges in 1993, named Officer of the Order of Canada in 1998 and inducted into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame in 2006. He received honorary degrees from the University of Oslo (1991), and Western University (2000), in addition to many other honours.

The Dr. Ian McWhinney Lecturer is an individual of international reputation who is recognized for their contribution to Family Medicine and whose work is reflective of the principles and values articulated by Dr. McWhinney. Recommendations for the speaker are made by an international panel and final selection by the McWhinney Lecture Committee of the Department of Family Medicine.

The lecture series keeps viable the deep insights and wisdom of a remarkable physician, philosopher, researcher, educator and writer and will continue to bring global recognition to Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry and Western University.

Principles of Family Medicine

 (From: McWhinney I. R., 1997. A Textbook of Family Medicine, Oxford University Press, New York)
In describing family medicine, it is best to start with the principles that govern our actions. I will describe nine of them. None is unique to family medicine. Not all family physicians exemplify all nine. Nevertheless, when taken together, they do represent a distinctive worldview, a system of values and an approach to problems, that is identifiably different from that of other disciplines.

  1. Family physicians are committed to the person rather than to a particular body of knowledge, group of diseases, or special technique.
  2. The family physician seeks to understand the context of the illness.
  3. The family physician sees every contact with his patients as an opportunity for prevention or health education.
  4. The family physician views his or her practice as a "population at risk".
  5. The family physician sees himself or herself as part of a community-wide network of supportive and health care agencies.
  6. Ideally, family physicians should share the same habitat as their patients.
  7. The family physician sees patients in their homes.
  8. The family physician attaches importance to the subjective aspects of medicine.
  9. The family physician is a manager of resources.