Dr. Hans Jung, former surgeon general, recognized for outstanding medical service to military and Canada
For his transformative service to military medicine, including serving as surgeon general, Hans Jung, MD, has been named a 2020 Honorary Fellow of the Royal College.
Dr. Jung immigrated to Canada from South Korea at age 11, speaking neither English nor French. He earned his medical degree from the University of Toronto in 1984 and served as a military medical officer for three decades.
Among other significant contributions during his military service, as director of health services operations from 2003 to 2005, Dr. Jung led the organization of health service support for all humanitarian, disaster relief, development, and combat missions, including missions in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Haiti, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Expanding the physician assistant role
Dr. Jung introduced the role of physician assistant to the Canadian medical landscape. To help mitigate national physician shortages, he led efforts with academia, the Canadian Medical Association and provincial ministries of health to recognize and credential the military model of physician assistants as health professionals for civilian practice.
“It’s an adjunct to the physician,” he explains of the position, “and allows us to leverage physicians’ services to a greater extent.” A number of provinces have since implemented the physician assistant model.
Dr. Jung was appointed surgeon general of Canada in 2009 – the first and only visible minority surgeon general in Canadian military history. At the time of his appointment, there was growing public and parliamentary concern about health and wellness care for military personnel, especially those returning from service in Afghanistan.
“In my acceptance speech, I committed to re-establishing the institutional credibility of medical service in the Canadian Forces,” he says. “In three years, I achieved that. When I left there were no more questions about military providing sub-par care. In fact, we were used as a model of how other jurisdictions should provide medical care, especially mental health care…We were able to demonstrate that we were providing probably the best mental health care in Canada. That was probably my proudest achievement in that role.”
Dr. Jung developed and implemented the Surgeon General’s Health Research Strategy to better integrate defence health research across government, academia and clinical organizations. This included a leadership role as the architect in the development of the Canadian Institute for Military and Veteran Health Research (CIMVHR) in 2010, now a consortium of over 45 universities to help align, generate and support health research relevant to both serving and retired military personnel and their families.
Continuing to serve veterans
After rising through the ranks of Canada’s military and retiring as surgeon general, Dr. Jung decided to return to his early career as a clinician. He now serves retired military members at the Veterans’ Medical Clinic he founded at Orleans Medical Centre in Ottawa.
“I wanted to go back to my roots, to where I started, and practise medicine. I had been looking after military members for 31 years, so I thought I would just do it now in a different way. I would look after members who are retired, like myself,” he says. “Many of them are both physically and mentally broken.
“When veterans come and see me, they know that I served in the military,” he says. “There are certain terms, certain shared experiences that we have…There’s a sense of camaraderie. It’s very comforting for them.”
Read more about Royal College Honorary Fellowship.