McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

Physician awarded for medical training focus

By Suzanne Morrison
Published: June 18, 2010
Karl Stobbe
Karl Stobbe, regional assistant dean for the Niagara Regional Campus of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine

Pick any place on a map of the world and you will probably find Karl Stobbe has been there, lending a helping hand to physicians — both internationally and at home.

This July, Stobbe will lead a team of 10 Canadian rural family doctors to the East African nation of Rwanda, a country which is recovering from genocide in 1994.

Early next year, he will return to Nepal, where he helped develop a rural medical school, and the Philippines, adding more air miles to his international experiences which have taken him to countries as diverse as Laos and Kurdistan to develop medical education.

At home, Stobbe continues to play a key role in educating future physicians as the regional assistant dean for McMaster University’s Niagara Regional Campus of the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine.

For his contributions at home and abroad, Stobbe is the recipient of the John C. Sibley Award, presented annually to a part-time faculty member in the Faculty of Health Sciences who has made outstanding contributions to the education of health professionals.  It is named for a former associate dean of the Faculty known for his interdisciplinary approach to community health, both locally and internationally.

Stobbe said he is touched by this unexpected award and considers it "quite an honour."

"Karl is a pioneer.  He has a creative drive to chart new paths where there is need and opportunity," said Susan Denburg, associate vice-president, academic and associate dean, education. "His positive energy motivates others to work with him to achieve wonderful results."

Stobbe received his medical degree from the University of Western Ontario in 1982.  He has practiced and taught rural family medicine for 26 years in Beamsville, Ont., and he is an emergency physician for the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital.

At McMaster, Stobbe developed a rural stream of training for family medicine residents.  He subsequently developed and was the director of the McMaster Community and Rural Education Program (Mac-CARE).  He has experience teaching at all levels — undergraduate, graduate and continuing medical education and faculty development.  He is committed to fostering interprofessional educational opportunities.

Stobbe led the expansion-planning team for the Michael G. DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster, developing all aspects of the medical campuses in the Waterloo and Niagara regions.

His research focuses on issues of education for rural practice, emergency triage system use, and rural physician recruitment and retention issues.

Of his international work, Stobbe said the education is not all one way. For example, in the Philippines he saw first-hand how medical students were encouraged to develop learning initiatives on their own, then wondered how he could develop the same concept here.

"We now work hard to include student input," he said. "Students are encouraged to sit on all committees on the Niagara campus. Quarterly, I meet with each class to get their feedback and suggestions for improvement. We solicit students’ advice and tell them they are part of developing their own experience."

This fall the Niagara campus will admit 28 new first-year students, joining 35 students currently studying on its campus. This is in addition to the 12 family medicine residents completing their training in Niagara, and many more students and residents from Hamilton — and other medical schools — who come to the Niagara Region for short-term training experiences.

Stobbe has built interprofessional partnerships with Brock University’s School of Nursing and McMaster University’s Midwifery Education Program. As well, students in McMaster’s new Physician Assistant Education Program have participated in rotations on the Niagara campus and students in the McMaster rehabilitation program will begin rotations there this fall.

In the past, Dr. Stobbe has won several awards for his excellence in teaching from both students and the Ontario College of Family Physicians.  In 2006, he was named a Paul Harris Fellow by the Grimsby Rotary Club for his work in the community and internationally. He is a past president of the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada.

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