I was extremely fortunate to have the opportunity to interview Canadian Dr. Ronald Stewart about the past, present and future of Paramedicine. Dr. Stewart has been an advocate for paramedics since the 1970s and continues to be to this day. You may or may not recognize his name but if your first introduction to being a paramedic was through DeSoto and Gage of Emergency! fame, you can thank Dr. Stewart for that. Dr Stewart was the script advisor during the run of Emergency! as well as Marcus Welby, M.D. In essence, I think it would be fair to say that Dr. Stewart is not only one of the fathers of North American paramedicine as we know it, but his vision was the motivation for many of us to choose this profession.
In the 1970s, after completing the new Emergency Medicine residency in Southern California, Dr. Stewart became the first medical director in the Los Angeles paramedic program, went on to start the University of Pittsburgh’s emergency medicine residency where he also developed the city’s emergency medical response system. Upon his return to Canada in his role as Minister of Health in Nova Scotia, he worked toward broadening the role of non-physician practitioners in health care including increasing paramedic’s role in non-traditional areas of care. He is currently an advocate for paramedic self-regulation and developing formal educational pathways for paramedics which lead to credentialing. I found in interviewing Dr. Stewart that his history as a physician and trailblazer sometimes parallels the trials paramedicine is going through to establish itself as a profession in Canada. We can all learn from Dr. Stewart’s observations and guidance if we want to move the profession of paramedicine forward.
Despite my focus on paramedicine, Dr. Stewart is an extremely interesting individual who has been influential in medicine, the humanities, entertainment, and has even received the Order of Canada. He is currently involved in teaching medical humanities to medical students and physicians focusing on the topics medical history, ethics, spirituality, literature and the healing power of music. Onto the podcast.
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