So, here I am, a GP in Newfoundland, providing primary medical services to several isolated communities on the west coast. If you want a mental image, think Scotland, but slightly larger and flatter, with fewer people and more moose.
My community has a petrol station, garage, shop, pharmacy, school, church and my clinic. From here it's an hour's drive to the nearest town of Stephenville and eight more hours to the provincial capital, St John's.
Young people tend to drift away and the supersize lifestyle predominates, as do obesity and diabetes.
What do I not miss? Home visits. Here, if you want to see a doctor, you go to the doctor. If there is an unexpected death, the police are called. If you are really sick, you go to the ER.
But time saved is used for repeat prescriptions and vitamin B12 injections which GPs are expected to administer monthly. Computerised prescribing is still very rare.
Despite the frustrations, I like it here. The people are friendly, the landscapes are out of this world, winter skiing is great and I look forward to seeing my first whale and iceberg.
- Dr Peter Gray is a GP in Lourdes, Newfoundland. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
LET'S GO TOO ...
www.cfpc.ca College of Family Physicians of Canada
www.mcc.ca Medical Council of Canada
www.cpsnl.ca College of Physicians and Surgeons of Newfoundland and Labrador.