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Queen’s community remembers Walter Rosser

Walter RosserThe Queen’s community is remembering Walter Rosser, a long-time professor in the Department of Family Medicine, who passed away on Sunday, Oct. 2.         

A Queen’s alumni who served as head of the Department of Family Medicine from 2002 to 2007, Dr. Rosser is highly respected throughout the University community, nationally, and internationally for his long history of service to family medicine.

Among his many notable accomplishments, Dr. Rosser played an integral role in conceptualizing and promoting the creation of family health teams in Ontario in 1994. From 1992 to 1994, he served as president of the North American Primary Care Research Group, an interdisciplinary volunteer association committed to nurturing primary care researchers. Dr. Rosser was recognized with NAPCRG’s Maurice Wood Award for Lifetime Contribution to Primary Care Research in 2002.

In 2008, the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) bestowed upon Dr. Rosser their Lifetime Achievement Award in Family Medicine. In 2010, he was named to the Order of Canada, with the citation: “Walter Rosser has helped to advance the field of family medicine and has contributed to the evolution of primary care research in Canada. He has been most influential in building mechanisms for the review and evaluation of health care systems, notably helping to establish practice-based research networks in Canada… and has long promoted evidence-based medicine in his field. A leader in primary care reform, he has influenced policy and guidelines not only within Canada, but also in many other countries around the world.”

In 2012, Dr. Rosser received the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal as well as the CFPC’s Victor Johnston Award, which honoured Dr. Rosser as “an exemplary clinician, teacher, researcher, and leader.” In 2015, the College recognized him as one of 20 pioneers in family medicine research – citing his work with Practice Based Research Networks (PBRNs) and research in non-university affiliated practices such as with Ambulatory Sentinel Practice Network (ASPN).

 In 2017, the same year Dr. Rosser retired from the department, Queen’s established the Walter Wylie Rosser Chair in Family Medicine Research, which recognizes his role as a leader in primary care research in Canada. This endowed chair was established to foster and enable interdisciplinary, patient-centred primary care research.

“Dr. Rosser influenced many family medicine leaders and researchers over, the years, including me,” says Michael Green, Brian Hennen Chair and Head, Department of Family Medicine. “He was generous with the time and support he offered to me and our entire research community."

“His influence was global,” Dr. Green added. “’Is Walter going to be here? How is he?  Please tell him how much he means to us’ was the refrain that greeted me at any national or international meeting on Family Medicine that I have attended.” 

After accepting his lifetime achievement award in 2015, Dr. Rosser cited being “persistent” as one of the keys to his success as a researcher. Watch his full CFPC interview.

“Try and if you don’t succeed once try getting something published two, three or four times,” Dr. Rosser said of his career takeaways. “I think my record is five. You have to be persistent.”