Dr. Michael Fort Whitfield was born in St. Andrews, Scotland October 29, 1946. At the University of Edinburgh, he successfully completed an undergraduate degree in
biochemistry and his medical qualifications and MD degree. He specialized as a paediatrician and did 4 years of research in neonatology before coming to Canada. After
a year in Toronto, in 1981,he established his career as a neonatologist in Vancouver. He was on the frontlines when the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) moved into the new
BC Children’s Hospital on Oak street in 1982 and had the foresight to establish the Neonatal Follow-Up Programme (NFUP) in 1983. It was unknown what the future
looked like for the extremely low birth weight survivors that were graduating from the NICU.
Dr. Whitfield dedicated himself to helping these new survivors and their families through multiple challenges and was one of the pioneers who told their stories. He liaised
with the community, talked to the schools and teachers and was always there to listen to the families. Simultaneously, he was working in the NICU as a neonatologist, looking for financial support and writing multiple budgets a year to keep the NFUP running whilst
meticulously documenting the outcomes of these new survivors. The United Way and Sheraton Hotel provided key funding in the early days. While the NFUP was becoming
established on a solid footing, Dr. Whitfield also completed research projects and gave presentations on the outcomes of the new survivors and advanced his academic career.
He was appointed full professor at the University of British Columbia (UBC) in 2003. By 2010 he had produced 73 peer reviewed publications, 120 abstracts, 66 presentations, 7
major administrative documents, written 1 book and 4 book chapters and contributed to 37 research grants.
Dr. Whitfield was an amazing mentor to learners at all stages in their training. In 1998 he
became involved in teaching and then chairing the Doctor, Patient and Society (DPAS)
course for medical students at UBC. He taught more than 1550 DPAS students, had 21
graduate students and listened to, counselled and made an impact on countless more
Dr. Whitfield’s achievements and commitment to helping people have been recognized
through many awards:
- 1994 Golden Rattle Award (mentorship) UBC Department of Paediatrics Residency Training Programme
- 1998 Special Recognition Award from Canadian Psychiatric Association for educational video about mental health problems in physicians with Dr. M. Myers
- 2002 Golden Award for Mentorship, Division of Neonatology Fellowship Training Programme
- Dec 2002 Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for “outstanding services to the children of British Columbia”
- 2005 Certificate of Appreciation from UBC Faculty of Medicine MD
- Undergraduate Programme for “Outstanding Service to the MD Undergraduate Programme as Course Director for Greater DPAS”.
- 2005 Certificate of Appreciation. Minister of State for Early Childhood Development, Government of BC
- 2008 Clive Meintjies Award of Excellence for family centred care
As the founding medical director of the Neonatal Follow-Up Program, Dr. Mike Whitfield has seen patients and families, supported the staff and the NFU from it’s start in 1983 until his retirement. We thank Mike for all he has done!