Honorary Conferrings Speeches Archive

    at Aula Maxima, UCC

  • 05 Jun 2009








PROFESSOR DAVID KERINS, Head of the School of Medicine, University College Cork, on 5 June 2009, on the occasion of the conferring of the Degree of Doctor of Medicine, honoris causa, on MICHAEL BOLAND



A Sheánsailéir, a mhuintir na hOllscoile agus a dhaoine uaisle,


Dr Michael Boland’s earliest remembrances of medicine are of the very high regard that his father held for Michael’s uncle, who was medically qualified. Following his medical education at UCD he returned to Cork to train as a General Practitioner in the newly established Cork GP training program and continued his training with Dr Michael O’Sullivan of Skibereen. Following completion of his training he worked for the next 22 years as a general practitioner in Skibereen, in a practice of four doctors serving a semi-rural community of 7,500 people.



As early as 1979, over a quarter of a century prior to the publication of the Fottrell and Buttimer reports on medical education, Dr Boland proposed that existing continuing medical education for general practitioners be supplemented by small group learning that focused on peer review and organized in each locality by a part-time GP tutor. As National Director of the Continuing Medical Education Network from 1986 to 1997 he directed a network of 29 GP Tutors serving 1650 general practitioners in more than 130 peer review groups. These groups were vital for the continuing professional development of GPs, but also provided a mechanism to address the professional and other forms of isolation that are such a hazard to the middle aged professional.



Despite his creation of these structures for education and training, and his busy medical practice, he had some free time on his hands. He also became involved in the foundation of theIrishCollege of General Practitioners. In 1984 he drafted the constitution of the newIrishCollegeand became its first Chairman of Council from 1984 to 1987, a period in which 95% of Irish general practitioners took up membership. As a member of the Medical Council of Ireland he successfully proposed the recognition of General Practice as a specialty in medicine - Ireland became the first European Commission member state to do so in 1989.



Michael next turned his attention toEurope. He was the founding Irish member of theEuropeanAcademyof Teachers in General Practice and a council member for 20 years.



Having excelled in Ireland, the UK, and in Europe the next step was inevitably to take on the World. WONCA is the W orld Organization of National Colleges, Academies and Academic Associations of General Practitioners/Family Physicians. Dr Boland joined the Council of WONCA to representIrelandin 1986. In 1992 he was elected to join the World Executive. In 2001 he took over the Presidency of WONCA. At that time WONCA represented 65 countries. Over the course of his presidency it grew to represent 83 countries and comprised 100 member organizations. He also performed the "The Rose of Skibereen" at their sixth World Rural Health Congress—at Santiago de Compostela in 2003. Anywhere he travelled he made the most of every opportunity to advance the cause of general practice by enlightening the local government ministers. He also established and maintained contact with the “ordinary GP”.



As WONCA/WHO Liaison he organised a 'Strategic Action Forum’ on 'Making Medical Practice and Education more relevant to People's Needs - the Contribution of the Family Doctor'. This document has been translated into many languages and distributed throughout the world.



Dr Boland chaired the host organising committee for the WONCA World conference held inDublin in 1998. This was attended by more than 5,000 delegates and accompanying persons. In this afternoon of record holders it is of value to recall that theDublin meeting holds the dual record as the largest international gathering of General Practitioners ever, and the largest medical conference ever held inIreland.



At a local level Michael played a vital role in the establishment of a chair in General Practice at UCC. He also supported the successful completion through UCC of one of the largest clinical studies performed among elderly patients in general practice, a study that guides contemporary clinical practice.



It is no surprise to learn that he attributes his success to the enormous support of his wife Susan and their three children. It is also not a surprise that he has continued to inspire the latest generation of clinicians, his daughter has just graduated from medical school and his son will follow next year. His other daughter is pursuing a PhD in art.



Following his successes in WONCA, Michael has served as Director of the Postgraduate Resource Centre of the IrishCollege of General Practitioners. As chairman of the Board of the Office of Tobacco Control he oversaw the introduction of the smoking cessation ban.



In the current ICGP Annual Report the CEO, Mr. Fionán Ó Cuinneagáin  commented that  “In mentioning the early development of the College, we think of the vision and initiative of Dr Michael Boland. Michael was the key driver in the establishment of the ICGP and in the many achievements both within the ICGP and the healthcare system, both at home and abroad.”



In the last twenty years, the emergence of family-oriented, person-centred primary care delivered by well trained general practitioners/family physicians has been seen in many countries. Dr Boland has played a crucial role in the development of these concepts and approaches. His clear vision for the scientific and academic roles of general practice has been a strong driving force.



He has played a critical role in the evolution of contemporary general practice in Ireland. He has also acted as a wonderful ambassador for Irish medicine.  His influences on the advancement of general practice and patient care are recognised and appreciated on a world-wide basis.



Praehonorabilis Cancellarie, totaque universitas.


Presento vobis hunc meum filium, quem scio tam moribus quam doctrina habilem et idoneum esse qui admittatur, honoris causa, ad gradum Doctoratus in Medicina, idque tibi fide mea testor ac spondeo, totique Academiae.

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