Remembering Graham Swanson, a passionate family physician and educator
Dr. Graham Swanson, an associate clinical professor of family medicine passed away on October 19, 2022.
Former colleagues describe Swanson as a passionate family physician and educator, a strong supporter of the department and community-based education, and an empathetic, inspired and creative human being. His impact can be felt in many corners of the department.
Swanson joined the department in 1987 as an Assistant Clinical Professor. In 1996 he was promoted to Associate Clinical Professor and remained at that rank. He lived in Burlington with his beloved wife, Lydia, where he had a long-standing private practice.
Swanson played a key role in developing family medicine within the Halton community. He was one of the founding members of the Burlington Family Medicine Group that collaborated with Joseph Brant Hospital and the department to develop the Halton McMaster Family Health Center. He also worked with the hospital and stakeholders as the initial site lead for the development of the Halton site of the residency program, allowing family medicine residents to train completely within that community.
Throughout his career, Swanson was active in teaching both at the undergraduate and post-graduate level, sharing his love of family medicine with many learners. He was also engaged in research, producing several peer-reviewed journal articles and presentations. He was active at Joseph Brant Hospital and did palliative care as part of his scope.
In 2017, Swanson released a book called Moments Near Life’s End: It’s hard to say goodbye. In it he shared the experiences of others as they face the dying process with the hope of helping others come to terms with what will happen to them and their loved ones.
His family medicine colleagues have talked about his impact on them and others.
“One of my earlier memories of Graham was as one of the founding members of our research writing group. We did a lot of writing and supported each other with some of our early projects. But I also remember that Graham was keen to share some very excellent bottles of wine. We were a fun group! I attended several conferences with Graham and Lydia and cheered on our McMaster team. Graham was the quintessential family physician and educator. He was passionate about community-based education and worked hard with his colleagues in Halton to get that site off the ground. He had more energy than the energizer bunny. We will miss him dearly.” – Elizabeth Shaw, Professor Emeritus, Family Medicine
“Graham was a strong mentor when it came to finding and appreciating work-life balance, always looking to entertain, to host, to laugh. He always was ready to lend a helping hand either professionally or personally – when I moved, he was the first one to show up to offer to help unpack! He was always up for an adventure,” said Amie Davis, Assistant Professor, Family Medicine and former Site Director, Halton.
“I am so sad to hear about Graham’s passing. He was a major stalwart supporter of our department and of our community program. An all-round great person, he did everything as best as it was possible for him to do. He was a great doctor, a great teacher, a great researcher and an empathetic, inspired and creative human being. He always broke into a smile and lightened my day, always had a helpful comment and always showed immense wisdom and support. He will be missed.” – Cheryl Levitt, Professor Emeritus, Family Medicine
“I met Graham when I first began in Family Medicine and joined the planning committee for the Faculty Retreat in 2009. He was very creative in making sure the event was a lot of fun. Graham was very warm and welcoming, and I never saw him without a smile on his face. He was always ready for a laugh.” – Dianne Hickey, Administrative Assistant, Family Medicine