The Royal College appoints Dr. Christopher Watling as next CEO

Dear colleagues, 

We are very pleased to announce that Christopher John Watling, MD, FRCPC, MMEd, PhD, is the newly appointed chief executive officer (CEO) of the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and of Royal College Canada International, effective July 1, 2024. 

A well-recognized leader in postgraduate medical education and educational scholarship, Dr. Watling is uniquely positioned to help the Royal College meet our vision of advancing learning for specialist physicians to deliver the best health care for all.

Dr. Watling: experienced leader and medical education scholar

Dr. Chris Watling

Christopher John Watling, MD, FRCPC, MMEd, PhD

Dr. Watling is currently vice dean (acting), Education Scholarship and Strategy, and director, Centre for Education Research and Innovation at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at Western University. He is also chair of the Royal College’s Residency Accreditation Committee (from 2021), and former deputy chair (2016-21). Dr. Watling was the recipient of the Royal College’s Duncan Graham Award for Outstanding Contribution to Medical Education in 2023.

In his current leadership role at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, Dr. Watling led the faculty’s strategic planning process and authored the resulting strategic plan for 2021-26, The Time is Now. In his previous role as associate dean for postgraduate medical education, Dr. Watling led the transition of curricula for the medical residency programs from traditional time-based to competency-based approaches. This transformative change involved extensive education and outreach to faculty, residents and staff.

As chair of the Royal College’s Residency Accreditation Committee, Dr. Watling led the national conversation on reimagining accreditation as a continuous quality improvement exercise. He also contributed to ongoing efforts to revise and refresh standards to meet changing societal needs and to use accreditation to affect meaningful progress towards equity, diversity and inclusion within Canadian training programs.

Dr. Watling completed medical school at Dalhousie University and his residency in Neurology at Western University. His 27 years of clinical experience in Canada includes both generalist solo community practice and team-based subspecialty academic practice. Since 2000, he has been on faculty at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry, where he is currently a professor in the Departments of Oncology, Clinical Neurological Sciences and Family Medicine.

Dr. Watling has completed a master’s degree in medical education at the University of Dundee and a doctorate in health professions education at Maastricht University, where he successfully defended his thesis on deconstructing feedback in medical education. Dr. Watling is an internationally known researcher in medical education whose program of work explores how feedback shapes learning and how medicine’s professional culture influences its educational practices.   

Read Dr. Watling’s detailed biography. 

Thank you to the recruitment team

Our CEO Search Committee was diligent in its commitment to find a candidate to lead the Royal College in these unique and fast-changing times. We would both like to extend our thanks to all members of the committee, including Ms. Irit Weiser, Dr. Ryan Giroux, Ms. Melissa Beckette-Batchellor, Ms. Susan Harley, Dr. Victor Do, Dr. Kara Laing, Dr. Geneviève Milot, Mr. Tim Julien, Dr. Samuel Ogunbiyi, Dr. Marcia Clark, Dr. Lawrence Loh and Dr. Nancy Fowler, as well as the team at Boyden, who assisted with this search.

Transitioning to the CEO role

Dr. Watling will join the Royal College full-time on June 5, 2024, to ensure overlap with Dr. Ian Bowmer, interim CEO, who will support his transition and onboarding. Dr. Bowmer will continue in his role until the end of his contract on June 30, 2024. We both wish to extend our most sincere thanks to Dr. Bowmer for his terrific service as interim CEO.

Please join us in congratulating Dr. Watling on this important role and welcoming him to the Royal College. 

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to get in touch at


Brian Hodges, MD, FRCPC, PhD
President / Président
Executive Vice-President Education and Chief Medical Officer, University Health Network /
Vice-président de l’Éducation et médecin en chef du Réseau de santé universitaire
Professor, Temerty Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto /
Professeur à la Faculté de médecine Temerty de l’Université de Toronto

Richard K. Reznick, OC, MD, FRCSC, FACS, FRCSEd (hon), FRCSI (hon), FRCS (hon)
Immediate Past-President/Président sortant
Professor Emeritus of Surgery and Dean Emeritus Queen’s University/ 
Professeur émérite de chirurgie et doyen émérite Université Queen's