House calls on the “front lines”
Being president of the Canadian branch of Doctors Without Borders is challenging, but the job has its rewards.
Dr. Bruce Lampard, Sc’91, emergency room physician and Canadian president of Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders (MSF), was under what he calls “polite pressure” to attend Queen’s.
Bruce’s mother, Diane (Hayes) McKenzie, NSc’64, MPA,’92, a long-time and very dedicated member of the Queen’s University Alumni Association and a supporter of the Ban Righ Centre, was the source of that polite pressure, having extolled the virtues of Queen’s to her son for most of his young life.
Turns out mother knew best. When Bruce, who was born in Calgary and raised in Mississauga, ON, was ready to choose a university, he visited Queen’s and liked it not just for academic reasons, but also because of its “ivy-ness” and spirit. “Now, as a graduate, I recognize that it wasn’t just the education I received, it was also the connections and friendships I made that are so important,” he says. “To this day, most of my closest friends are people I met during my engineering studies.”
That’s high praise coming from a man who went on to complete his medical degree and six-year residency in Calgary and a Master’s in International Affairs at Columbia University in New York City. Bruce’s generosity goes well beyond donating his time and expertise. Once again continuing in his mother’s footsteps, he served as a member of University Council from 2007 to 2011 and has recently made an unrestricted bequest to the Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science.
Bruce elected to study engineering chemistry in part because the curriculum included many of the courses required to pursue a medical degree. “It also offered an excellent back-up plan if I failed to get into medicine,” he says.
Turns out, of course, that wasn’t necessary but the practical skills have come in handy. Bruce has spent a large part of his career as a physician working in remote corners of the world with little or no medical or other infrastructure. His interest in and commitment to humanitarian medicine began during medical school when he joined his father, also a physician, on a trip to Africa. “We went to do some hiking in Tanzania, and I stayed on to spend six weeks working in a small clinic in Zambia,” he says.
Bruce began volunteering with MSF in 2001. His first field physician role was at a 70-bed hospital in South Sudan. Since then he has worked with MSF in Nigeria, Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Chad, and Somalia.
Bruce hasn’t neglected medically under-serviced areas of Canada either. Before he moved to Toronto where he works with the University Health Network in Toronto, Bruce practised medicine in Iqaluit, Nunavut. It was there that he met his wife, Allison Crawford, an assistant professor of psychiatry at the U of T and a staff psychiatrist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. She continues to do outreach work in Northern Ontario. Allison and Bruce now make their home in Toronto with their sons Jude and Gabriel.
Bruce joined the MSF Board of Directors in 2009 as Vice-President, and he became President in 2011. His work with MSF is all voluntary. He juggles these tasks along with his duties as an ER physician and his busy family life. Of his work with MSF Bruce notes, “It’s not just that the work is interesting, rewarding, and compelling. What I find a bit different, perhaps even a bit more meaningful about working overseas with MSF, is that the quantity of need is so much greater.”