Campus physician Dr. Derek Hitchman celebrates 30 years at TWU
“Dr. Hitchman was my doctor and is a trusted friend. He is a man who loves God and his family. He is integral, thoughtful, a great listener, competent and caring. I'm sure his retirement will be filled with many new activities and events where he will continue to make a positive difference in our world.”
— Director of the Learning Commons and Accessible Learning, Dave Stinson
Since 1992, Dr. Derek Hitchman has been the campus doctor at Trinity Western University. This spring, Dr. Hitchman retires after providing quality care to TWU students, staff and faculty for 30 years.
Provost Bob Wood says, “It has been a pleasure to work with Dr. Hitchman over the past 30 years. He has been a calm and thoughtful colleague even in the midst of challenging circumstances. We have been blessed to have a faithful doctor serving for so many years, and will miss him as he moves into this next stage of his journey.”
Rob Rhea, Associate VP of Student Life, describes Dr. Hitchman as “a perfect balance of attention to high level medical care with a deep concern for the spiritual dimension of life." He adds, “Many times he has prayed for me or for my family at a time of vulnerability. This reaffirms to me his calling to care for the whole person. He takes every concern seriously and goes above and beyond.”
From medical missionary to campus doctor
Dr. Hitchman first arrived at TWU to pursue seminary studies through ACTS Seminaries. At the time, he was looking for some role that would integrate his medical training together with Christian ministry.
Prior to coming to TWU, Dr. Hitchman had graduated from medical school at the University of British Columbia. From there, he entered into family practice. He also completed short term medical mission work in Zambia, Mexico and Ecuador.
While in seminary, Dr. Hitchman contacted TWU’s Student Life to see if he could be of service to the campus community. The timing was perfect. As it turned out, TWU was planning to start a student health service. Dr. Hitchman was able to begin providing medical care to students that year.
Thinking back, he says he is grateful for God’s providence in leading him to TWU.
“I had visited a Christian university health service in the USA several years previously and had thought this would be a very rewarding role,” he said. “Although I was not particularly seeking it, [later] I found myself in this exact role.”
Vice President of Student Life, Richard Taylor, was an undergraduate student at Trinity Western during Dr. Hitchman’s early years at TWU.
“My rugby injuries brought me under his care a little too often and I was always met by a doctor who was kind, compassionate, capable, and willing to give some friendly professional advice,” he said.
“This is who Dr. Hitchman has been to thousands of students in our community over 30 years of service. We are so grateful for him and the legacy he leaves here at Trinity Western.”
Providing health care integrated with a Christian worldview
Dr. Hitchman says he has enjoyed being a part of the campus health care team, working alongside others to provide quality comprehensive health care integrated with a Christian worldview.
“I have found providing health care through the Wellness Centre to be a very rewarding experience,” he said. “I have had the time to listen to students’ concerns, which sometimes present on many levels.”
Dr. Hitchman noted that it has been particularly helpful to be part of a team that included nursing and counselling services.
“So often in my previous practice, I would recognize the need for counselling in patients’ lives, but it was often unavailable for them. I am grateful that TWU has continued to subsidize counselling for students.”
Director of Mental Health Services Shawna Medley has worked with Dr. Hitchman for almost 18 years. “I have appreciated his wisdom, his collaboration, his expertise, his dry sense of humour, but most importantly his grounded spirit steeped in faith,” she said.
“I witnessed him time after time, conduct himself in meetings and with individuals, with a grace and humility that I can only assume comes from a deep love of the Lord. He has a way of quickly getting to the heart of an issue in a calm, matter-of-fact way that leads to productive reflection.”
She continued, “He's not just brilliant, though. He has an awesome sense of humour, and is refreshingly honest about life and children.”
Seeing patients recover and thrive
As a family physician, Dr. Hitchman has special interests in sports medicine and mental health. His typical scope of care includes injury management. He has worked alongside TWU’s athletic therapists to help many student-athletes, suturing lacerations and casting fractures. He has also treated common illnesses, plus “some not so common” illnesses in students returning from missions or from overseas.
One of the most rewarding areas for Dr. Hitchman has been helping students with their mental health concerns – from therapeutic listening, to praying with the students, to using medical therapy. He says that highlights included “the recurrent satisfaction that comes from seeing patients recover from their illness and go on to function well in their university studies.”
He adds, “It has been especially rewarding to see some of these ex-students and patients return to the University in leadership roles.”
Natalie Ghobrial is Head Athletic Therapist for TWU Spartans. She said, “Dr. Hitchman has been an incredible support to myself since my first day joining Spartan therapy and still is to this day.”
“Dr. Hitchman’s care for our athletes and teams has been an integral part of their personal and team success! We can’t thank you enough!”
In addition to seeing patients, over the years, Dr. Hitchman has also provided valuable medical advice to the University regarding issues such as water contamination, air quality in older buildings, and infectious disease outbreaks.
Thinking of the Wellness Centre’s next chapter, he said, “I feel confident that the Wellness Centre is in good hands for next year. I think the shared care model, encompassing nursing, counseling and medical practitioners is a great resource and will continue to be in the years ahead.”
Dr. Hitchman’s colleagues Dr. Meghan Newcomb and Dr. Simone Loch will both continue serving students at TWU’s Wellness Centre. In addition, two new physicians, both TWU alumni, will be joining the practice this Fall.
Director of Health Services Michele Regehr says, "It has been one of the greatest privileges of my career to work with Dr. Hitchman. He embodies what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus through the compassionate and competent care that he has provided to our TWU community. No one can fill his shoes, but we believe that God has provided us a strong team of physicians as we enter this next chapter."
“Dr. Hitchman was my doctor and is a trusted friend. He is a man who loves God and his family,” said Director of the Learning Commons and Accessible Learning, Dave Stinson. “He is integral, thoughtful, a great listener, competent and caring. I'm sure his retirement will be filled with many new activities and events where he will continue to make a positive difference in our world.”
“Thanks for who you are and all you have done, Derek!”
About Trinity Western University
Founded in 1962, Trinity Western University is Canada’s premier Christian liberal arts university dedicated to equipping students to establish meaningful connections between career, life, and the needs of the world. It is a fully accredited research institution offering liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, and arts, media, and culture. It has four campuses and locations: Langley, Richmond-Lansdowne, Richmond-Minoru, and Ottawa. TWU emphasizes academic excellence, research, and student engagement in a vital faith community committed to forming leaders to have a transformational impact on culture. Learn more at www.twu.ca or follow us on Twitter @TrinityWestern, on Facebook and LinkedIn.
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