The Glendon Psychology Department has recently announced that Dr. Guy Proulx (right) has joined its faculty in a full professorship this summer. Proulx is not new to Glendon, having taught as a visiting professor on this campus for the past several years. But devoting his attention full-time to Glendon brings a wealth of experience and added benefits to the campus and its students.
In fact, Proulx’s role at Glendon goes beyond classroom teaching. Since his arrival in Toronto in 1986, he has held a number of leading positions at the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care and at the Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre (for details please see below). Using this background, Proulx has established work placements at Baycrest for some of his Glendon students, resulting in a win-win situation for students and the institution alike.
“I am convinced that today’s students search for applied, practical experience in every field”, comments Proulx. The Baycrest placements provide real-life experience for undergraduates, as well as an educated volunteer staff for the institution, because these students are familiar with research methodology, have completed relevant courses in psychology and have a serious interest in the field.
“Our students [in these placements] are well-equipped to help with establishing day-to-day life-style changes for our patients, thereby making our health care system more sustainable”, adds Proulx, “while acquiring practical, relevant experience in a number of related fields.” He sees this intersectorial collaboration between the health care system and educational institutions as key for the future and is eager to participate in facilitating them.
Proulx brings forty-two years of work experience in long-term care institutions on aging, its results and possible treatments. “The biggest issue with aging is memory loss and a decline in cognitive functioning”, he says. “In the developed countries of the world, 8% of the population over 65 [years of age] will have dementia; over 75 this increases to 17% and the rate jumps to 37% after age 80. There are 600 million people over 65 in the world today and by 2050, this number will increase to 2 billion. With life expectancy in Canada being 80 today, including all health problems, there are many issues relating to aging that we must consider seriously.”
Some of the big questions we must examine, according to Proulx, are how long we, as a country, can maintain our health services, given the dramatic rise in the population’s age; how to reduce the social inequalities of health and health care; and whether by increasing longevity we are in some ways victims of our success.
“I am deeply interested in having an impact on the young”, says Proulx, “of educating them to lead a healthy lifestyle from the earliest stages, because that is the most effective way to extend life expectancy. A lifelong attention to good health practices also ensures that seniors will continue to be able to contribute to society and will need less care from the health services of the country.” To this end, he encourages everyone to remain physically active, to stop – or better still, never start – smoking, to avoid obesity and to keep informed of what they need to do to stay healthy.
“Guy is a great advocate for improving our health care system”, says his colleague, Glendon professor of psychology Josée Rivest. “His innovations are and will remain implementation models for health providers. His accomplishments are achieved through a leadership style that takes into consideration the strengths and weaknesses of every member of his team. Guy brings outstanding expertise in the field of neuroscience and dedication to research, with genuine concern for the needs of the patients as well as the participants.”
“The U.N.’s World Health Organization defines health as a balance between the physical, mental and the social – not just an absence of disease”, explains Proulx. “A liberal arts college such as Glendon can contribute to all of these fields through the interdisciplinary courses it offers, including the International B.A. (iBA) and the Graduate School of International and Public Affairs (GSPIA), among others. Humanities students and graduates have the skills in research, statistics, and the social skills which can be of great value in health care.”
Proulx is proud of his Francophone roots and points out that there is a large Francophone population in Toronto, for whom the bilingual aspect of Glendon adds an extra benefit, by being able to address individuals in their own language.
Ï have developed French-language tools for neuropsychological assessment tests”, says Proulx. “But establishing norms for a Francophone community is different from those of other groups. Glendon is an ideal place for developing these norms and to confirm their validity. Being tested in their own language is crucial for the validity of any patient’s assessment.”
Throughout his career, Proulx has always worked with university-based institutions and the teaching aspect of his work comes naturally. “I want to be a catalyst between Baycrest, Sunnybrook and Glendon”, he comments, “to train students to develop programs, and to provide the practical experience that will make them the best-prepared professionals after graduation.”
More about Dr. Guy Proulx
Dr. Guy Proulx (Ph.D., C. Psych) obtained his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Ottawa in 1981. He was Director of Psychology at St-Vincent Hospital and at the Elizabeth Bruyère Health Centre, Ottawa from 1981 to 1986. From1986 to July 2009, he was Director of the Department of Psychology at the Baycrest Centre for Geriatric Care in Toronto and was also appointed Director of Neurorehabilitation. Since 1999, Dr. Proulx had been responsible for Neuropsychological Services at Sunnybrook as part of the Neuroscience Alliance. In 2008, he was appointed Director of the Cognitive and Behavioural Health Program, a new interdisciplinary program at Baycrest. In 2009, Dr. Proulx accepted a position as full professor at York University’s Glendon campus. He specializes in the assessment and rehabilitation of cognitive disorders in people who have strokes and dementias.
Dr. Proulx has written papers and chapters in the field of geriatrics, cognitive aging and rehabilitation. He integrates neuropsychological approaches to help minimize disability due to cognitive disorders.
Article submitted by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny