Popular medical journalist in City Nov. 18

  • Nov. 13, 2013 4:25 p.m.

A well-known medical journalist will be visiting the City next week to give a free public lecture and promote his latest book.

Dr. Gifford-Jones, (Ken Walker), whose column appears in the Red Deer Express, will be in Red Deer on Nov. 18. His lecture, to be held at the iHotel on 67th St., begins at 7 p.m.

He also recently released a book entitled What I Learned as a Medical Journalist, which is a collection of columns he has penned over the years.

Walker has been busy hitting the trail promoting the book for several months, and has been enjoying connecting with many folks who have been reading his column for years.

“I’m not an extrovert,” he says with a laugh. “I’m not one that normally seeks the limelight – I’m quite happy being a writer. But I have really found it interesting to meet people and have these talks.”

In 1975, Walker started writing a newspaper column as a hobby for the Globe and Mail and seven other newspapers. He expected to write the column for a year or two.

Thirty-eight years later, The Doctor Game column can be found in more than 70 Canadian newspapers, several in the U.S. and the Epoch Times which has editions in a number of European countries.

What I Learned as a Medical Journalist is a collection of columns covering these years.

Through the columns, readers learn about a range of medical conditions and practices, natural remedies and Walker’s own take on the medical establishment. His association with some of the best researchers and medical authorities has allowed him an insider’s look at hot topics and controversies in health and health care.

Walker is also well-known for a number of stances he has taken – his strong reservations about cholesterol lowering drugs for one thing. He also believes that many people are seriously over-medicated these days as well.

Besides writing several books, he was also senior editor of the Canadian Doctor, a regular contributor to the magazine Fifty Plus and other publications.

Walker, who was born near London, England and grew up in Ontario, knew he wanted to be a doctor in his early teens. “Our home was right across from the local hospital. I’d see these doctors driving up, and after a while I’d get to know them. I remember one day, one of them asked me if I’d like to see an operating room,” he recalls. “I said ‘Would I ever’.”

That experience further cemented his determination to join the medical profession one day. That meant working harder in school even though he struggled with some classes and was even told by one high school teacher, who after looking at Walker’s marks, said that he would never be a doctor.

But Walker pressed on. “I was impatient to do what I wanted to do.”

He went on to graduate from the University of Toronto and The Harvard Medical School. He also took post-graduate training in surgery at the Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester, McGill University in Montreal and Harvard.

Walker also was awarded a certificate of merit by The Mitchener Foundation for his efforts to legalize heroin to ease the suffering of terminal cancer patients.

His Gifford-Jones Foundation donated $500,000 to establish The Gifford-Jones Professorship in Pain Control and Palliative Care at the University of Toronto Medical School.