Retiring senior deputy registrar leaves a legacy of teamwork and trust

If Dr. J. Galt Wilson had a crest of arms hanging above his desk, it would likely feature the Rod of Asclepius, a moose from BC’s northern interior, and the motto communicare et collaborate

Over the course of his career, encompassing 30 years as a family physician in Prince George and 10 years as a deputy registrar at the College, relationship building has been at the heart of Galt’s professional life. Whether by coaching registrants to improve their communication skills or encouraging them to collaborate with health-care colleagues to effect positive systemic change, Galt’s work at the College has been a clarion call to what he calls “constructive engagement.”

While complainants and registrants alike often look to the College to change the health-care system, Galt realized soon after assuming his post that it is not within the mandate of the regulatory body to do so—at least not directly. He often would say, “we have a very particular role—the regulation of individuals to make them the best doctors they can be.” This includes “encouraging and nudging” registrants to work with others to shape a system that puts patient interests first.

As senior deputy registrar responsible for the complaints and practice investigations department, Galt brought that collaborative spirit to roughly 1,000 registrant interviews, many more thousands of advice calls, and 10,000 complaint investigations. Helping parties achieve mutual understanding through acknowledging different perspectives was, he found, more effective than a rigid rules-based approach. Galt also provided leadership to the College library.

Galt introduced a new synergy to his workplace. He is proud to have transformed the complaints and practice investigations department from a “physician-with-dictaphone” model to a true team-based environment. Recruitment expanded to include medical reviewers as well as people with humanities education and skills in nursing, writing, and management. Complaint decisions are no longer the product of one physician; each letter benefits from the contribution of half a dozen people. 

As someone who has coached dozens of registrants in transitioning to retirement over the course of his College career, Galt is well-versed in the virtue of stepping back from “being the boss” when the time is right and looks forward to added leisure time with his wife, Gerda, and eight grandchildren. 

Galt will continue to support the College as a senior medical consultant and is pursuing a new opportunity to work with students. The College is delighted he will be sharing his guiding passions—communicare et collaborate—with BC’s future registrants.

Submitted by Peggy Trendell-Jensen who worked with Dr. Wilson for 7.5 years.