Guy Proulx joins Glendon’s psychology department

Professor Guy Proulx joined the Department of Psychology at York’s Glendon College this summer, bringing a wealth of experience to the campus and its students. Although Proulx is not new to Glendon, having taught as a visiting professor for the last several years, he will now devote his attention full time to the position.

Proulx’s role at Glendon has already reached beyond classroom teaching. Since arriving 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. With his 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,” says Proulx. The Baycrest placements provide real-life experience for undergraduates and an educated volunteer staff for the institution – these students are familiar with research methodology, have completed relevant courses in psychology and have a serious interest in the field.

Right: Guy Proulx

“Our [placement] students are well-equipped to help with establishing day-to-day lifestyle changes for our patients, thereby making our health care system more sustainable, while acquiring practical, relevant experience in a number of related fields,” says Proulx. 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.

“Guy is a great advocate for improving our health care system,” says Glendon psychology Professor 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.”

Proulx brings 42 years of work experience on aging in long-term care institutions, as well as 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 per cent of the population over 65 will have dementia; over 75 this increases to 17 per cent and the rate jumps to 37 per cent after age 80. There are 600 million people over 65 in the world today and by 2050, this number will increase to two 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, says 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 by educating them to lead a healthy lifestyle from the earliest stages, because that is the most effective way to extend life expectancy,” says Proulx. “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.

“The UN’s World Health Organization defines health as a balance between the physical, mental and the social – not just an absence of disease,” says Proulx. “A liberal arts college such as Glendon can contribute to all of these fields through the interdisciplinary courses it offers, including the International Bachelor of Arts and the Glendon School of Public & International Affairs, 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.”

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 to train students to develop programs, and to provide the practical experience that will make them the best-prepared professionals after graduation,” says Proulx.

More about Guy Proulx

Guy Proulx obtained his PhD in psychology from the University of Ottawa in 1981. He was director of psychology at Saint-Vincent Hospital and at the Elizabeth Bruyère Health Centre in Ottawa from 1981 to 1986. From 1986 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, Proulx had been responsible for neuropsychological services at Sunnybrook as part of the Neuroscience Alliance. In 2008, he was appointed director of the new interdisciplinary Cognitive & Behavioural Health Program at Baycrest. He specializes in the assessment and rehabilitation of cognitive disorders in people who have strokes and dementia. 

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. 

Submitted by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny