Dr. Vincent Matthews

Residency program pioneer honoured

Dr. Vincent Matthews' legacy lives on in the College of Medicine.

By Amanda Woroniuk

A College of Medicine professor emeritus was honoured posthumously for his contributions to residency programs during the University of British Columbia’s (UBC) 50th Anniversary of Postgraduate Public Health Training in Western Canada.

Dr. Vincent (Vince) Matthews (BA'43, Cert/Med'43), professor emeritus and department head, was recognized by the college’s Dr. Cory Neudorf as one of four men instrumental in bringing residency programs to Western Canada. Matthews, along with his colleagues, established UBC’s residency program which led to the development of similar programs at medical schools in Saskatoon, Edmonton and Calgary.

“His vision of social medicine and dedication to his patients touched many lives,” says Dr. Anne Leis, department head of community health and epidemiology. “He exhibited strong leadership, forged sustainable relationships with faculty and staff, and developed the next generation of physicians, serving as a mentor and inspiration to those who knew him.”

Born near Kincaid, Saskatchewan, Matthews received a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Saskatchewan in 1943 before completing his medical degree at the University of Toronto in 1945, and a Diploma in Public Health from the University of Toronto in 1947.

In 1963, Matthews joined the faculty of the former Department of Social and Preventive Medicine (now known as the Department of Community Health and Epidemiology), and was later appointed department head. He worked in the college until retirement in 1987, when he was made professor emeritus. He passed away in 1988. To honour his memory, the college’s Dr. Vince Matthews Graduate Student Bursary was established.

A Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada in Public Health and Preventative Medicine, Matthews also served on both the executives of both the Canadian and American Public Health Associations.

Matthews’ interest and research was in the organization, administration and delivery of health care services in Canada and abroad. He served as regional Medical Health Officer in the Swift Current Health Region, which pioneered the country’s first universal hospital and medical insurance program, and in later years, was the appointed as the City of Saskatoon’s Medical Health Officer. Matthews also served as the province’s Acting Deputy Minister of Health, and helped to design and introduce Medicare to Saskatchewan in 1962.

As both a practitioner and academic, Matthews was able to bridge the gap between the clinical and scholarly worlds of medicine. He was also an advocate for stronger ties between the college and the health region.

“He was a true public health pioneer and we were fortunate to have him on faculty,” continued Leis. “His contributions to the college and his legacy continue to live on, even now, three decades later.”

The UBC event was held November 17, 2017 in Vancouver.