He’s not a hockey phenom like Sidney Crosby, and there’s no telling when he last donned skates. But he is a “jock.”
Thomas John Murray—better known as Dr. Jock Murray—stickhandled changes at Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine to emphasize the more humanistic and caring aspects of medical education.
For his efforts, Dr. Murray is among five Nova Scotians—including home-grown star Sidney Crosby—named to the Order of Nova Scotia.
Besides Sidney Crosby, other notable Nova Scotians named to the honour are the late Mi’kmaq activist Nora Madeline Bernard of the Millbrook First Nation, Pier 21 instigator Ruth Goldbloom (a former chancellor of TUNS), dedicated volunteer Michael Dan MacNeil of Jamesville in Cape Breton and health-care champion Mahmood Ali Naqvi of Sydney.
“I think it recognizes a collaborative life,” says Dr. Murray, who is as busy as ever since his retirement from the university five years ago. “I have been blessed by the ability to work in teams and to be helped so much by others.”
Imbalance in medical education
Dr. Murray changed the face of Dalhousie’s Faculty of Medicine in the early 1990s. He was the Dean of Medicine and past director of the faculty’s Multiple Sclerosis research unit for 23 years. He is widely respected as a teacher, administrator, neurologist and researcher.
Feeling that there was an imbalance in medical education, which he thought was too heavily weighted towards the sciences, Dr. Murray launched the Humanities-in-Medicine Program in 1992. He believes the understanding of people is better learned through literature, poetry and art than most medical textbooks. He also opened medical school admissions to welcome students who wished to pursue medicine regardless of their undergraduate major. And perhaps most importantly, he changed the process of learning from the lecture format to one based on problem solving.
“My feeling was that medical students were being taught by way of a process that had been in place for a century,” he explains. “And science only answers some problems about patients and their illnesses … Some of the concerns about doctors up to that time were that they didn’t understand or they weren’t sympathetic or they didn’t listen. We really wanted to address that.”
He is also the founder and first president of the Dalhousie Society for the History of Medicine, and in 2004, was appointed professor emeritus in the humanities at the medical school.
The investiture ceremony for the Order of Nova Scotia will be held on Wednesday, Oct. 8 at Province House. It is the highest honour of the Province of Nova Scotia and was established in June 2001.
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