Thirty years of excellencePosted on March 12, 2019
Dr. Grant McKercher, an Assistant Professor at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine and family physician in North Bay, was the recipient of the 2018 College of Family Physicians and Canadian Geriatric Society Award of Distinction in Health Care of the Elderly.
The award honours Canadian family physicians in active practice who had made substantial contributions to the highquality, patient centred care of Canadian seniors.
Many health-care professionals and community members in North Bay will recognize McKercher in that description. He has he has been practising in the area for the past 30 years, initially working in a solo family practice, then taking on a focused practice in care of the elderly and seniors’ mental health in 1998.
“I had a lot of seniors in my practice at that time, and I also worked in long-term care facilities, so it was an area of interest right as I was starting out in family practice,” he says. “Then, in 1995, I did a one-month geriatric fellowship sponsored by the Royal Canadian Legion. That really sparked my enthusiasm for working with this population, and that’s when I made the decision to do an extra year of training in Care of the Elderly at the University of Western Ontario.
After completing the training, he took a job with the North Bay Psychiatric Hospital’s seniors’ mental health program, now part of the North Bay Regional Health Centre, where he has been for the past 20 years.
McKercher has been involved in clinical teaching throughout his career, first taking students from the University of Ottawa, then joining the faculty at NOSM in 2007. He is also the former program director of the School’s Family Medicine Care of the Elderly Enhanced Skills Program.
“I think it’s very, very important to be able to pass along that clinical expertise and geriatrics knowledge, because we don’t always receive that specific training in our undergraduate and residency years,” he says. “We see a lot of older adults in our family medicine and specialty rotations, so it’s important to gain expertise in the care of that population that we will carry forward into our practices.”
Since NOSM’s founding and the introduction of the Family Medicine Care of the Elderly Enhanced Skills Program, McKercher says he has seen a big change in the health-care landscape in Northern Ontario.
“We’ve had a number of family physicians who have graduated from the program, and who are now practising in various communities across Northern Ontario,” he says. “We’re developing that network of physicians and clinical resources to support family physicians and other health practitioners throughout the region.”
As for his award, he says he feels particularly honoured by the fact that he was nominated by his peers and colleagues.
“A career is something that grows organically, it’s a day-by-day process,” he says. “As individuals, we may not see that until it’s pointed out to us. Having your colleagues come forward and provide that recognition is a very special honour.”