Who We Are

Who We Are

The Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA) is the voice of organized medicine in Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada. The NLMA is a non-profit professional organization funded primarily by its members.

The NLMA represents the political, clinical and economic interests of the province’s medical profession. The Association represents the views of the physicians of the province with governments, stakeholders, the media and the general public. As the representative for physicians in contract negotiations, it is committed to negotiating competitive compensation and benefits for members. It also advocates on behalf of all patients for a fair and equitable health care system in Newfoundland and Labrador, and Canada.

The province’s Medical Act requires that all practicing physicians in Newfoundland and Labrador hold membership in the Association as a condition of licensure. Retired physicians, medical residents and medical students enrolled at Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine are also eligible for membership in the Association. 

The NLMA is governed by its members, who meet each year for the annual general meeting. Between meetings of the general membership, the Board of Directors act as the NLMA’s governing body, and exercises the rights and powers of the Association. The Board of Directors is elected by the general membership through a general election. There is also an extensive committee structure. The day-to-day work is conducted by NLMA staff.


To represent and support a united medical profession and provide leadership in the provision of excellent health care in Newfoundland and Labrador.



We strive to be the best in everything we do for physicians and their patients and we are committed to continuous learning and improvement.


We strive to unite physicians around the fundamental tenets of high quality standards, patient safety, professional autonomy, accountability, responsiveness and physician health and well-being.


We uncompromisingly adhere to the highest ethical standards and honesty in representing our members and conducting our business.


We foster an individual and corporate culture of caring for physicians, their patients and each other.


We strive to bring together diverse communities of interest in the pursuit of common goals.


Founded in 1924 as an association of the province’s physicians, the NLMA has from its beginning played a vital role in the development and promotion of health care services across the province. 

Organized by doctors Arthur Anderson, Alex Forbes and Nutting S. Fraser qv, the NLMA had its origin in a meeting of the St. John’s Clinical Society on December 1, 1923, to which some outport practitioners were invited to discuss forming a national organization. The 34 physicians at the meeting recognized the need for closer communication and continuing medical education.  

The Newfoundland Medical Association’s (N.M.A.) constitution was formerly accepted at its first convention in July 1924 with the aim of serving as a professional organization for its members and as a means to enhance health care. At the time, there were only about 80 doctors in active practice, for a population of approximately 265,000. The original executive were President Dr. Lawrence Keegan qv, Vice-President Dr. Alex Forbes and Secretary-Treasurer Dr. Cluny MacPherson qv.

At its first convention, the N.M.A. discussed the need for better hospital facilities, the prohibition of alcohol and the question of testing cattle for tuberculosis. It also established its first fee schedule: $1.00 for a visit, $15.00 for midwifery, $20.00 for treatment of a simple arm or leg fracture, and $50.00 for a laparotomy. 

After Confederation in 1949, Dr. Howard Drover served as the first President of the N.M.A. in its new status as a “Division” of the Canadian Medical Association. 

In 1974, membership in the Newfoundland Medical Association became compulsory within 30 days of commencing practise in order to retain a medical license. 

In 1991 the association had approximately 1,000 members. Today, the NLMA represents some 1,400 practicing physicians in the province.

Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador, Gerald Lynch (interview, Feb. 1991), Cluny MacPherson (BN II, 1937), Paul O’Neill (1975), W.D. Parsons (1971; 1974), Community Services Directory (1990), N.M.A. Newsletter (Feb. 1971), NQ (Dec. 1926). CSK

First President

Dr. Lawrence Edward Keegan (1868-1940)

Lawrence Edward Keegan was born in Dublin, Ireland and educated at Jesuit College; Marist Fathers’ School; Trinity College; Dublin. Keegan came to Newfoundland and Labrador to practise medicine in 1889. From 1898 to 1901 he acted as superintendent of the mental hospital in St. John’s and also served as district surgeon for St. John’s East. In 1909, he was appointed Chief Surgeon and Resident Superintendent of the General Hospital.

During his years there, Keegan was responsible for introducing many greatly needed medical facilities, including a sterilizing apparatus, modern operating rooms and a nurses’ home. Keegan became the founder and first President of the Newfoundland Medical Association (N.M.A.) in 1924. After completing his term of office in 1925 he was named the Association’s first Honorary President.

Encyclopedia of Newfoundland and Labrador
DNLB (1990), NQ (Oct. 1935), Who’s Who in and from Newfoundland 1927 (1927).