Dialogue Volume 12 Issue 3 2016 - Page 26

Council award who continue to seek his counsel with challenging patients.” Recently, we had the opportunity to speak to Dr. White about his life and career. What led you to a career in medicine? You could say that medicine was in my blood. My father and both my grandfathers were doctors. My mother’s family is from Scotland. After getting his medical degree in Scotland, my maternal grandfather moved the family to Wales. My paternal grandfather is from Bristol in England. He was also a doctor, but he didn’t practise medicine – he became a wine merchant. Your father was the renowned neurologist Dr. Denis Naldrett White who is credited with developing the subspecialty neurology practice at Queen’s University. What influence did he have on you and your career path? I’m very proud of my father’s contribution to medicine. At one time, he was the only neurologist between Toronto and Montreal. But I always think of him foremost as a researcher in ultrasound technology as he spent much of his time working to expand the use of ultrasound in Canada. He was among the first physicians to demonstrate the advantages of using ultrasound in place of X-ray in certain circumstances. I spent several summers working for my father, assisting him in his research and doing basic ultrasound work. Did you consider following in your father’s footsteps by specializing in neurology? The funny thing is that I wanted to be a neurologist for as long as I could remember! But when I began my medical training, I quickly realized that I liked the variety of experience and activities that a general practice afforded. You were born in London, England, grew up in Kingston and studied at the University of Ottawa. How did you end up moving from a background in large city centres to practising in a small, rural community in eastern Ontario? During one of my rotations in residency, I did a month in Carleton Place and then during my holidays I did a 26 Dialogue Issue 3, 2016 week’s locum for Dr. Wayne Barry. When he asked me to join him, I jumped at the chance. As a general practitioner in a small community, I got to do everything – treating patients in the clinic, assisting in surgery, delivering babies, minor surgery, emergency department coverage, plus committee work and serving as hospital chief of staff. Also, in the early days, there were only a handful of physicians in the community and that meant we often encountered medical situations that we had not previously been exposed to. It was – and is – exhilarating and interesting to work in so many areas of medicine. You’ve been a coroner in Lanark County since the late 70s. How has that experience changed over the years? I was asked to serve as a coroner in 1978. In the early days, there were more car accidents than there are now and I used to visit many nursing homes to sign death certificates, because back then, only a coroner could pronounce a death. It’s not as busy as it used to be, but you’re still seeing family members under the most difficult of circumstances, often after a homicide or a suicide. You’ve also served as a College Peer Assessor for the past decade. Why did you become a peer assessor and why do you keep on doing it? I myself was assessed about 20 years ago, and sometime after I was a approached by the College to become an assessor. I love doing it for a few reasons: I enjoy travelling around the province to see how medicine is practised in different regions. One day I could be assessing a physician in Kingston, and another time I am way up north observing the unique challenges facing those practising medicine in a remote community. The other thing I like about being a peer assessor is helping colleagues understand the important educational focus of an assessment. Most assessed physicians begin the process with trepidation, but by the end of their assessment they are happy with the experience and what they’ve learned through the process. Do you have any advice for young doctors? Be compassionate and laugh. MD