Meet new OMA President: Dr. Shawn Whatley
By Danielle Milley, OMA Public Affairs
Dr. Shawn Whatley hopes to spend the next year working to improve the health care of Ontarians.
Dr. Whatley was elected President of the Ontario Medical Association at the beginning of May. He brings with him a wealth of experience – family doctor, emergency department physician, teacher, and leader through his time on both the boards of the OMA and the Canadian Medical Association.
“As a physician you have the opportunity to improve the health of each individual patient. When I made the move to a leadership role at my hospital I realized I could impact the health of 100,000 patients at a time – which was amazing and rewarding,” he said. “Now in my role as OMA President I have the opportunity to push for improvements to our health-care system that will impact 13 million people.”
He is passionate about advocating for high-quality patient care; he is the author of a book about emergency department transformation called No More Lethal Waits: 10 Steps to Transform Canada’s Emergency Departments.
“Our team at Southlake (Regional Hospital) was able to make substantial improvements and today the hospital is a leader in the province when it comes to wait times,” said Dr. Whatley.
As OMA President, he is focused on improving the association, but another priority is securing a contract for doctors (they have been without one for three years) so they can focus solely on providing excellent patient care.
“It’s important for doctors and the government to have a productive relationship so together we can work to address the challenges in our system,” he said. “Individually, I know doctors are working hard every day to put their patients first but within the system they are having to deal with long wait times and a lack of resources and our patients deserve better.”
While he interested in leadership and policy, he also loves the hands-on aspects of being a doctor.
“The best part of being a doctor is solving people’s problems and just helping patients,” he said. “That part is so meaningful – the caring for patients – I would do that for free.”
Originally from Thunder Bay, Dr. Whatley attended medical school in Ottawa before moving to Toronto for residency. He worked for a number of years in emergency medicine before leaving to pursue his dream.
“I’ve always had a dream of working in a little house somewhere in a little village – like Little House on the Prairie,” he says with a chuckle. “I may not have been able to travel back in time, but I do have a practice in a little house down the street from my home.”
Dr. Whatley lives in Mount Albert, in rural York Region, with his wife of nearly 25 years. Together they have four children, two horses, two dogs and a cat.
This article originally appeared in our monthly e-newsletter, Spotlight on Health.
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