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LEVITT, Prof Cheryl: WONCA Fellowship recipient 2010


Prof Cheryl Levitt receives her WONCA Fellowship award in Cancun from Prof Chris Van Weel while Prof Rich Roberts looks on.

Professor Cheryl Levitt of Canada was nominated for Fellowship of WONCA by Professor Amanda Howe, with the support of the Executive of the WONCA Working Party on Women and Family Medicine. The nomination stated that "Cheryl has worked tirelessly for the cause of family medicine in all aspects of her career, and has committed herself to a demanding programme of work through WONCA which spans more than 10 years. She will stand down as an executive member of the WONCA Working Party on Women and Family Medicine (WWPWFM) at the next triennial, and it would be an appropriate accolade to see her achievements recognised."
Dr Cheryl Levitt has made a life-long contribution to promoting gender equity and women’s health in family medicine. She has done so through advocacy for full empowerment of women family physicians, through institutional transformation as a means to improve the health of women, and through quality and health improvement strategies for the general population.

Throughout her career as a rural family physician, academic, teacher, professional leader, and mother, she has worked strategically to improve the health of her communities by advocating tirelessly for social and health improvements for women and children. For example, among other things, through the 1990s she served as the vice-chair of the board of the Canadian Institute of Child Health, chair of the Task Force of Child Health of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), and chair of the Breastfeeding Committee for Canada; and published widely on maternal and child health and breastfeeding.

Since she became an academic family physician in 1984, Dr Levitt has worked consistently to remedy systematic discrimination against women physicians and women patients. She was the first woman full-time faculty member to be recruited to the Herzl Family Practice Centre at McGill University, and the first woman Clinical Department Chair to be recruited to the Faculty of Health Sciences at McMaster University.

She has worked to ensure that the academic work environment is an attractive and sustainable one for all faculty, especially for the many women family physicians she has recruited, trained and mentored in her career. She has deliberately and conscientiously established an environment for work and excellence in family medicine: one that promotes full gender equity; encourages and supports women in leadership; strongly supports career development and advancement; and facilitates and encourages family and community time. Notably, she encouraged an innovative co-operative approach to on-call for all full-time faculty in her Department; and in 2001, she conceived and obtained funding for an innovative interdisciplinary model for the provision of family medicine obstetrics, which she designed to recruit and retain family physicians in providing high-quality obstetrical care. http://www.fammedmcmaster.ca/programs/maternity/

Internationally she served as the chair of the WONCA Working Party on Women and Family Medicine from 2004 –2007. She led an international initiative to bring about gender equity in family medicine and health care through the Hamilton Equity Recommendations – the HER Statement, a statement developed by 25 leading women family physicians from 16 different countries and all 6 WONCA regions. The statement was endorsed by the WONCA Council in 2007.

Dr Levitt believes passionately that by tackling and removing institutionalised gender barriers, changing gender-based values and habits that support systematic discrimination in the profession, and focusing attention on women’s health, the whole world will benefit from a stronger more resilient and sustainable physician work force.

Dr Levitt, currently Professor of the Department of Family Medicine, McMaster University in Hamilton Ontario. is a very worthy recipient of the award of Fellowship of WONCA.