He is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Member of the Order of Nova Scotia and on May 26, 2017, Dr. Ron Stewart, member of Acadia’s Classes of 1963 and 1965, was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Laws by Dalhousie University for his career achievement in paramedic training and implementing systems for emergency medical care. This recognition from Dalhousie, where he earned his MD in 1970, complements earlier Honorary Doctorates from Acadia (1988) and Cape Breton University (2010).
Dr. Stewart grew up in North Sydney and was the first member of his family to graduate from high school. He chose Acadia for his undergraduate studies because of its strong sense of community. At Acadia, he was active in student affairs and was elected President of the Students’ Union. Following his graduation from Acadia, he studied public health in Algeria, an experience that led to his interest in acute care medicine.
When he completed his studies at Dalhousie, he returned to Cape Breton to practice family medicine, but left for an opportunity at the University of Southern California to train specialists in emergency medicine. In addition to his ground-breaking work training first responders to perform CPR and defibrillation, and to administer medications, he served as the medical advisor to the television show Emergency! and other programs produced by Universal Studios and NBC.
Dr. Stewart left California when he accepted the role of Professor and Head of the emergency program at the University of Pittsburgh Hospital and Medical Director of the Department of Public Safety for the City of Pittsburgh. There he established the Centre for Emergency Medicine, now the largest Centre of its kind in North America.
In 1987, Dr. Stewart returned to Canada, first to the University of Toronto, then to Dalhousie in 1990, where he taught emergency medicine and anesthesia. In 1993, he was elected to the Legislature of Nova Scotia and was immediately appointed Minister of Health and Registrar General for the Province, a position he held until 1996. During his tenure he devised and implemented the Emergency Health Services (EHS) and central 911 dispatch system in use today and created the first Tobacco Control Division within the Ministry of Health.
Dr. Stewart has received numerous awards and honours from organizations and institutions across North America, including the Queen Elizabeth II Golden and Diamond Jubilee Medals, for his work in emergency medicine, public health, and tobacco addiction prevention. He remains active in his profession with appointments as Professor Emeritus in Dalhousie’s Faculty of Health Professionals, Adjunct Professor in the Faculty of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences and in the Medical School at the University of Pittsburgh and Adjunct Professor at Cape Breton University.
The presentation to Dr. Stewart of his Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa, by Dalhousie can be viewed here. The introduction of Dr. Stewart by Dr. Katherine Harman begins at 1:20.
Congratulations, Dr. Stewart!