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Dr. Wayne Weston

Dr. Wayne Weston

London, Ontario

Looking back 50 years, Dr. Wayne Weston reflects on writing the first Certification Examination in Family Medicine and how important it was to him to earn his Certification in the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CCFP).

“It was groundbreaking. A combination of simulated orals, multiple choice, and other testing methods. I had no idea how to study for the exam, so I read Dr. Ian McWhinney’s book The Early Signs of Illness. I was so proud of that certificate. It meant I had the skills and training to properly support my patients.”

Dr. Weston was a young physician in the small village of Tavistock, Ontario, when he wrote the exam. He had graduated in 1964 from the University of Toronto and completed a one-year internship at Toronto Western Hospital before he joined the Tavistock practice.

He found those early years tough. “I was comfortable caring for hospitalized patients but felt lost with patients who had common conditions presenting in the office. I gradually learned how to be a family physician from my colleagues and from experience.”

A senior colleague in Tavistock, Dr. Bruce Halliday, was a member of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC)’s executive who was involved in developing the certification examination and assessing the value of a residency program in family medicine to better equip young physicians. He invited Dr. Weston to write the exam.

“I believe the CFPC wanted both family medicine residents and practising physicians to write that first exam so they could compare the results and test the theory that three years of residency should equal five years in practice,” said Dr. Weston. “I credit Bruce for encouraging me to write the exam. It launched a lifelong involvement with the CFPC and a love of medical education and teaching.”

In 1975 Dr. Weston moved to London, Ontario, to join the department of family medicine at the University of Western Ontario (now Western University). A few years later he joined the Byron Family Medical Centre, where he stayed until retirement from practice in 2003. He has continued with academic activities ever since.

He was a member of the interprofessional team at Western that developed a groundbreaking approach to patient-centred care—an approach that addresses not only patients’ diseases but also their life situations, values, and preferences and engages them as equal partners in treatment. “It has been shown to be more effective for patients and, we believe, more satisfying for physicians.”

Dr. Weston is known for his commitment to teaching and mentoring medical faculty and graduate students, and for his prolific contributions to medical teaching. He has co-authored two popular books on patient-centred medicine, written or contributed to more than 200 publications, and regularly assisted medical schools around the world in improving teaching and training.

“My greatest joy as a physician was my long-term relationship with my patients,” said Dr. Weston. “And one of the driving forces of my entire academic career has been helping new graduates be much better prepared for practice than I was when I graduated!”

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