Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 104, Issue 2, pp e108–e110 | Cite as

A Look to the Past as We Look Ahead: The Specialty of Public Health Medicine in Canada

  • Lawrence C. LohEmail author
  • Bart J. Harvey


In February 2011, the medical specialty of Community Medicine was renamed as Public Health and Preventive Medicine (PHPM) to better reflect the roles and responsibilities of physician specialists in this field. While physician involvement in public health began in the early 20th century, the development of the formal PHPM specialty has closely paralleled the evolution of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. At present, despite shortages identified in light of public health crises, recent specialist graduates in PHPM have reportedly experienced some difficulties finding optimal employment. This paper reviews the history and current situation of PHPM specialists, raising awareness of the issues in order to promote greater specialty planning coupled with improved integration and collaboration between clinical services and public health initiatives.

Key Words

Public health preventive medicine community medicine history of medicine education medical specialty medical 


En février 2011, la spécialité médicale de la médecine communautaire a été rebaptisée « santé publique et médecine préventive » (SPMP) pour mieux refléter les fonctions des médecins spécialistes du domaine. L’implication des médecins dans la santé publique date du début du 20e siècle, mais la création de la spécialité officielle de SPMP a étroitement suivi l’évolution du Collège royal des médecins et chirurgiens du Canada. À l’heure actuelle, malgré les pénuries mises au jour par les crises de santé publique, on dit que les nouveaux diplômés spécialisés en SPMP ont du mal à se trouver des emplois optimaux. Nous examinons l’histoire et la situation actuelle des spécialistes en SPMP pour mieux faire connaître les enjeux, ceci afin de promouvoir une planification accrue dans cette spécialité, assortie d’une intégration et d’une collaboration améliorées entre les services cliniques et les initiatives de santé publique.

Mots Clés

santé publique médecine préventive médecine communautaire histoire médecine enseignement médical spécialités médicales 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Dalla Lana School of Public HealthUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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