The Canadian Medical Association (CMA) named Dr. Derek Fewer this year’s recipient of its Physician Misericordia Award. The award recognizes outstanding contributions by a CMA member toward enhancing the overall health and well being of physician colleagues at both the personal and professional levels, in particular during times of conflict and crisis.
“Dr. Fewer’s remarkable record of service and leadership benefitting individual physicians, their family members, and the medical profession in Manitoba makes him highly deserving of this award,” said Dr. Anna Reid, CMA president. “He is not only having a positive impact on physician health, he is also contributing to society at large because healthier physicians lead to healthier patients and a more efficient health care system.”
“I am humbled and very pleased to receive this award from the CMA. This work is truly a team effort in every province and it is in this spirit that I accept it,” said Dr. Fewer. “The efforts both nationally and provincially to foster health prevention is a major step forward in promoting physician health and, I hope, should soon reduce the need for interventions, crisis management and the like,” Dr. Fewer added. “On most Wednesday nights since 1985, I have been involved with our physicians follow-up group. I always leave the meetings counting my blessings. It is incredibly uplifting to realize that the vast majority of attendees have returned to health and work, sometimes despite the most unimaginable obstacles. This has truly been the highlight of my medical years.”
A graduate of McGill University medical school, Dr. Fewer pursued neurosurgical training at Montreal Neurological Institute and the University of California. He has been on the neurosurgery staff at the Winnipeg Health Sciences Centre since 1976 and since 1973 a faculty member at the University of Manitoba, where he is associate professor of neurosurgery.
From 1993 to 2004, he was program director of the neurosurgery postgraduate training program. In 1987 he co-founded and became chair of the Doctors Manitoba Physicians at Risk (PAR) program. Since then he has reached out behind the scenes to his colleagues and been instrumental in helping hundreds of his peers get their lives and careers back on track. Using the tools of compassion, empathy, patience, and persistence, he is credited with helping change attitudes and the medical culture concerning physician health and the stigma associated with seeking help. The high priority placed on physician health and well-being today is the result of early provincial initiatives such as PAR.
A former president of Doctors Manitoba, Dr. Fewer has been involved with the insurance committee for more than 35 years, serving as its chair for more than a quarter century. In 1998, he received the organization’s Physician of the Year Award. He has also been a leader in the Canadian Neurosurgical Society and the Canadian Neurological Sciences Federation. Dr. Fewer received the Physician Misericordia Award on August 21, 2014 at a ceremony that took place at the Hyatt Regency Calgary Hotel as part of the CMA’s 146th annual meeting.