I stumbled upon rural practice when I was given the opportunity to complete my last year of medical school in the town of Pincher Creek, through the University of Calgary’s longitudinal clerkship program. I loved the varied practice that rural physicians have and how closely they are able to work with their communities to deliver the best healthcare possible.
Initially, I found rural practice to be quite overwhelming. The scope of practice is impressive and I had no idea how rural physicians did it! However, after some experience and education, I realized that healthcare is delivered as a team where everyone has their area of expertise. Rural practices are successful through the dedication and hard work of the entire medical staff.
In rural practice, healthcare teams regularly go above and beyond. People are happy to help whenever they can. I think this is the main reason that effective, high-quality medicine can be practiced in resource-limited environments. I wish people were able to see behind the scenes: porters will stop in the hall to guide someone who looks lost and, in an ongoing effort to improve their practice, physicians will start their days exceptionally early to attend rounds. There are countless examples of healthcare professionals going above and beyond, but sometimes they get overshadowed by the flaws in the system.
Now that I am about to enter practice as a rural physician, I am still nervous about the responsibility that I will be taking on. However, I know I’ll be well supported by the admin team, nurses and physician colleagues and will be able to continue learning and improving my practice throughout my career. I finished my Family Practice Anesthesia residency at the end of June and now live in Pincher Creek with my family. My rotation experience in Pincher Creek was the driving factor behind my decision to practice here. I’ll be taking on a family medicine patient panel, working in the ER and doing Family Practice Anesthesia. Hopefully, I’ll be able to locum in other communities, like Yellowknife, as well.
I am very glad I decided to change career paths—it’s hard to imagine a career outside of medicine. My family and I look forward to life in a smaller community and I find being a doctor exceptionally rewarding. I get restless when days become predictable and are the same... there is certainly no risk of that in rural practice!
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, visit Dr. Bryan Ward Memorial Endowment Fund.