The end of the current session may mean different things for students and soon-to-be graduates across campus, but to Dr. William “Bill” McLean, it means a new beginning: after a remarkable 40-year career with the University of Ottawa, Dr. McLean is set to retire.
“It is bittersweet, but it is time,” says Dr. McLean, an adjunct professor with the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine. “It’s time for young blood to come in at the Faculty. I’ve always tried to encourage young professors to come forward and translate their knowledge into teaching.”
Following his studies at the University of Michigan and the University of Toronto, Dr. McLean arrived in Ottawa in 1971 as a newly hired pharmacist in the intensive care unit at the Ottawa General Hospital, and the head of a new Drug Information Centre. He soon found himself in an academic setting after being appointed as a part-time lecturer to medical and nursing students.
On campus and in clinical settings, Dr. McLean became known as the professor with the bow tie, an accessory he wore frequently. In 1986, he took on the position of coordinator for the clinical pharmacology courses at the University, which still run today, and he helped develop the therapeutics course in both English and French for Ontario universities offering the nurse practitioner program.
Dr. McLean spearheaded many projects between the University and the Ottawa General Hospital, including three separate research centres: the Clinical Pharmacokinetics Service in 1981, the Pharmacy Research Unit in Infectious Diseases in 1987 and the Pharmaceutical Outcomes Research Unit in 1996. Two studies from the latter unit received large grant support and garnered several awards: one was the Clinical Pharmacy Services Study, which examined thousands of hospital pharmacists’ interventions; the second was the BC Community Pharmacy Asthma Study, which showed that specially trained pharmacists providing intense disease management improved health outcomes.
In addition to his work with the hospital and faculties, Dr. McLean practised clinical pharmacy, personally treating patients for over 30 years, and helped conduct many research projects. He has authored more than 130 papers with research teams and made more than 350 formal presentations to audiences across Canada, the United States, Mexico, France and Sweden.
He has received a number of awards for his work, including two fellowships (American Society of Hospital Pharmacists and the American College of Clinical Pharmacy), the Ontario Pharmacists Association Pharmacist of the Year (1987), the Canadian Society of Hospital Pharmacists’ Distinguished Service Award (1994) and the Canadian Pharmacists Association’s Centennial Pharmacist in 2007 (one of only 100 pharmacists so honoured over the last century).
While Dr. McLean will stay on as a consultant for various initiatives at the University, what he’ll miss the most is research and his interaction with students. Along with his storied career, Dr. McLean has also retired his signature bow tie, saving it only for special occasions. “I am proudest of the research projects, and of the relationships and rapport I developed with pupils through teaching over the years,” he says. “I’ll always have my heart and soul here.”