She is an innovative educator and was an early advocate for equitable and accessible healthcare. He was a pilot, physician and decorated peacekeeper who became a much-honoured authority on aviation medicine.
Today, Dr. Carol Herbert, former dean of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and the late Dr. Stephen Blizzard, MD’63, were announced as inductees into the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame.
Recognized as icons in Canadian health leadership, they are among six inductees who will be celebrated in a special ceremony June 22, 2023, at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia.
“The Canadian Medical Hall of Fame is proud to welcome these individuals whose outstanding contributions to health have made Canada, and the world, a better place,” said Dr. Cynthia Forbes, chair of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. “Their impact is well documented, and they have earned their place alongside our 149 laureates.”
Canadian Medical Hall of Fame laureates are Canadian citizens whose outstanding leadership in medicine and the health sciences have led to extraordinary improvements in human health. Their work may be a single meritorious contribution or a lifetime of superior accomplishments. Pioneers in their field, they are role models who inspire young Canadians to pursue careers in the health sciences.
Herbert was one of the first two family physicians, and one of the first two women, to be the dean of a Canadian medical school. Blizzard, who passed away in 2020, overcame systemic racism navigating uncharted territory as a Black medical professional and member of the Canadian military.
Dr. Stephen Blizzard, MD’63
Dr. Stephen Blizzard held many titles throughout his life, including veterinarian, medical doctor, flight surgeon, and military pilot.
Blizzard immigrated to Canada from Trinidad in 1958 with his wife, a nurse, and midwife. In 1959, he began his medical studies at Western, joining the reserve officer training program of the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) to pay for his studies.
Combining his love of medicine and aviation, he is renowned for his service and for leaving a lasting mark in addressing the unique health challenges of the aviation industry.
Blizzard developed standards and practices in aviation and aerospace medicine still used today. His research on pilot fatigue, jet lag and inflight care are cited in publications including Flight Times and Flight Duty Times in Canada and Patient Care in Flight.
He is recognized for his grit and determination and ability to successfully straddle two professions.
“To succeed, you have to set goals and work hard towards achieving them. Don’t waste time with frivolous activities. There is no substitute for hard work.” –Dr. Stephen Blizzard (Trinidad and Tobago Icons)
Blizzard took part in groundbreaking events in his field throughout his career, including the Canadian Forces’ Operation MAGNET mission, which airlifted Vietnamese refugees to Canada. He also served in the United National Peacekeeping mission in Egypt, and as advisor to the Zimbabwe air force.
Other roles include president of the International Civil Aviation Medical Association, the Canadian Society of Aerospace Medicine, and the Canadian Aerospace Medicine and Aeromedical Transport Association. He was also a member of the NATO Advisory Group on Aerospace Research and Development and the prestigious International Academy of Aviation and Space Medicine.
Blizzard continued flying until the age of 78 when he stopped due to age-related health conditions.
His courageous legacy lives on through the Dr. Stephen Blizzard Trailblazer Award, established by the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry to commemorate a lifetime of exceptional achievement.
Read more about his extraordinary life.
Dr. Carol Herbert, MD CCFP FCFP FCAHS FRCPS (Glasg)
Professor Emerita of Family Medicine, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry
Dr. Carol Herbert is a pioneer in addressing social determinants of health by developing services for victims of sexual assault (both adults and children) and delivering community-based health care.
A passionate advocate for social justice, Herbert’s integrated interdisciplinary research also addresses patient-physician decision-making, ecosystem health issues in Indigenous communities, and health care and health professional education as complex adaptive systems.
Herbert is recognized worldwide as a leader, teacher, and mentor in the field of family medicine research. At Western, she is best known for the impact she had serving as dean of Schulich Medicine & Dentistry from 1999 to 2010. She built a reputation for her ability to bring people together to find a consensus on complex issues. Under her tenure, the two professional programs of medicine and dentistry came together in one school, through a $26-million-gift from philanthropist Seymour Schulich in 2004.
A champion of her students, and supporter of their activities, Herbert was 19 years old herself when she started medical school. Attracted by the opportunity to marry her passion for the sciences and arts and humanities, she chose to become a family physician looking to make a difference in the world. When she was awarded an honorary degree at Western’s 312th Convocation in 2018, she called on graduates to do the same.
“While you have been diligent in your studies, the fact that you and I are here today is evidence of our privilege,” she said in her address. “With that privilege, there is a responsibility to give back, pay forward what you’ve been given and embrace opportunities to help others.”
Upon her retirement as dean in 2010, faculty, staff and students took time to pay tribute to her in the video below.