2017 Bryan Ward recipient, Dr. Celina Horn, breaks down the walls to practising in a rural community

Dina Baras CPSA

Some people believe rural medicine is less up-to-date or evidence-based than urban medicine. Doctors are also anxious about practising in places with little support or time off. Dr. Horn’s experience shows us the gap between perception and reality.


First experiences

Dr. Celina Horn fondly remembers her late grandfather as a source of inspiration. “He spent his life and career as a country doctor in southern Alberta. He would wake up early each morning to do surgeries in the OR, run a family practice during the day, come home for a quick dinner then do house calls in the evening. Often he would come home only to be called back to the hospital in the middle of the night to deliver a baby. It really was full-scope medicine during that time. Those stories played a big part in my decision to practise rural medicine.”

Becoming a Jill of all trades

In medical school, Dr. Celina Horn was introduced to rural medicine, spending 8 months in an integrated rural clerkship program.

She worked alongside doctors with special skills like dermoscopy, endoscopy, surgery and even acupuncture. “These were areas of medicine I thought were out of reach for a family physician”. In many cases, doctors were also taking care of three or more generations of the same family.

Dr. Horn knows rural family practice requires a full scope of knowledge and expertise. Rural physicians are very driven to learn and improve, and she notes there are many tools to help them. “Practising rural medicine makes me a better doctor. Resources like continuing education initiatives and locum coverage help me work rurally and keep a healthy work-life balance.”

“Resources like continuing education initiatives and locum coverage help me work rurally and maintain a healthy work-life balance.”

New adventures

Having recently moved to take on a family practice in Tofino, British Columbia, Dr. Horn and her husband are excited to put down roots. Outside of work, they want to experience the many things their new community has to offer. “I have been trying to teach myself to surf! We try to get out on the water after work whenever we can.”

The Dr. Bryan Ward Memorial Endowment Fund is awarded annually to a medical student or resident with interest in rural family practice and professionalism. Dr. Ward was a champion for rural family practice, spending 15 years serving a rural community before transitioning to administrative medicine with the CPSA as Deputy Registrar To recognize Bryan’s many contributions to the medical profession, and to encourage students and residents to choose rural family practice, the College and University of Calgary created the Dr. Bryan Ward Memorial Endowment Fund in 2014. For more information, or to donate, go to: Dr. Bryan Ward Memorial Endowment Fund.