A history of the Centre for Studies in Family Medicine Presented by Moira Stewart on May 9

Dr. Moira Stewart, former Director of the Centre for Studies in Family Medicine (CSFM) from 1997 to 2012, gave a fascinating presentation on May 9 on the history of the Centre. As one of the original founding faculty members of CSFM, she has a unique perspective on its rich history and accomplishments.  

In 1968, Dr. Ian McWhinney was recruited to Western University to be the first Professor of Family Medicine in Canada. He believed family medicine needed four components: to be in the community; to have strong academic training for residents; to provide faculty development; and to create its own research program in family medicine. He began by forming Family Medical Centres in the community to train residents in 1968, then starting the graduate program in 1975, and in 1986 the Centre for Studies in Family Medicine was formed as the research arm of the department.

Dr. Martin Bass, a clinician and researcher, was appointed as the first CSFM Director. Moira was a faculty researcher from the beginning of CSFM. Dr. Brian Hennen was hired as Family Medicine Chair in 1987, and with his leadership, CSFM was successful in 1989 in obtaining a large Ontario Ministry of Health grant to form the Thames Valley Family Practice Research Unit (TVFPRU). This grant with approximately $500,000 in annual funding allowed the Centre to hire interdisciplinary researchers Dr. Carol McWilliam, a nurse researcher, and Dr. Judith Belle Brown, a social work researcher, and to make connections with community practitioners and policy makers. Dr. Hennen encouraged the researchers to accept all the research opportunities that were presented to them.

Later, Drs. Stewart Harris, and Graham Reid were hired to the interdisciplinary team, and partnerships were formed with Drs. Rob Petrella, Evelyn Vingilis, and John Feightner who were all conducting primary care research. CSFM continued to grow over the years, and four other faculty members joined CSFM – Drs. Joshua Shadd, Amanda Terry, Bridget Ryan, and Sonja Reichert.

From the beginning, CSFM always had an international presence, and is still known today, both nationally and internationally for its programmes of research and education. The Centre’s accomplished interdisciplinary team of researchers continues to conduct research and create new methods to improve family medicine and primary health care, with worldwide impact on the health and care of patients and populations.