Lives of the fellows

Donald Spencer Munroe

b.19 October 1911 d.7 March 1975
BSc Sask MD Manitoba(1936) MRCP(1944) FRCPC(1947) FRCP(1973) FACP

Donald Munroe was born in Welwyn, Saskatchewan, and after obtaining a BSc in the University of Saskatchewan, he qualified in medicine at the University of Manitoba.

Although immersed in a very busy practice, Donald Munroe joined the RCAF (Medical Branch) in 1941. In 1944, while serving in the United Kingdom, he qualified for the MRCP (London). He left the RCAF with the rank of Flight-Lieutenant in 1945, after approximately 4½ years’ service, more than half of which time was spent in the United Kingdom and in north-western Europe, beginning six days after D-Day. He qualified for the Fellowship of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada in 1947, and was made a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London in 1973.

Donald Munroe was much sought after as a president and developer of organizations. His gifts as an organizer resulted in his being elected president of Medical Services Incorporated and Medical Services Associated, the first prepaid medical insurance plans in British Columbia. He served as president of the Vancouver Medical Association, the Osier Society of Vancouver, the BC Society of Internal Medicine, and of the North Pacific Society of Internal Medicine. In 1960 he gave the Osier Lecture at the Vancouver Medical Association’s Osier Dinner. Another honour bestowed on him by the Vancouver Medical Association was the Prince of Good Fellows Award. Dr. Munroe was also a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and served as Governor for British Columbia from 1969 until his death in 1975.

He was widely recognized as a teacher of medical students and was twice given the Best Lecturer Award by medical undergraduates at The University of British Columbia, and twice given the Best Teacher Award by internes at the Vancouver General Hospital. But, as a practitioner of internal medicine and as a consultant in general medicine, with a special interest in cardiology, Munroe was well known as a teacher to internes and residents long before the Faculty of Medicine at The University of British Columbia was established in 1950. Later, he taught undergraduates in all the clinical years, specializing in physical diagnosis. His interest in cardiology prepared him for the leadership he gave in this field within the Faculty of Medicine.

At the Vancouver General Hospital, Munroe was chief of one of the medical services, and medical director of the Adult Outpatients Department from 1965 to 1975. He was also a senior consultant to the Salvation Army’s Grace Hospital in Vancouver. In later years, much of his private practice was made up of people in the health professions and he became known as "the doctors’ doctor".

Shortly before Munroe’s death, The University of British Columbia, the Vancouver General Hospital, and the British Columbia Heart Foundation set up a permanent lectureship in his name.

His publications, approximately twenty in number, were largely on clinical subjects. At the time of his death, he was preparing further papers for publication.

Donald Munroe was survived by his wife, Doris C. Munroe, one son, and one daughter. His brother, the Hon. Mr. Justice F. Craig Munroe, served on the Bench for many years in British Columbia.

WC Gibson

(Volume VI, page 352)

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