On July 24, Sundre physicians spent the evening making house calls to the Double N Ranch. However, it wasn’t medical advice that brought them to the property, but rather a barbecue in their honour, a simple way to say “thank you”.
“It’s something that goes unsaid,” shares Gerald Ingeveld, chairman of the Sundre Health Professional Attraction and Retention Committee (SHPARC). “But it needs to be said.”
According to Ingeveld, when SHPARC started in 2011 several doctors shared with the organization that part of their reason for leaving was a feeling of disregard from the community.
Surprised by this, volunteers looked at how to rectify the problem, and came up with several different initiatives that all circled around the same ultimate goal: making physicians feel like they belong.
“When you live in a small community you’re providing health care, you’re providing medicine and first aid to your friends and neighbours, and I think it’s particularly difficult to do that,” says Ingeveld. “They need to know that they’re accomplishing something, that they’re doing something good, and that the community appreciates what they do, otherwise the stress can build up.”
“So it’s something that we have to be sure to remind ourselves, to remind them that we do care,” he adds.
From barbecues to banquets, family gatherings, goody baskets, and help with day-to-day living, the hard work done by SHPARC does not go unnoticed by those who help to keep the community healthy.
“I think it’s that sense of community that really draws physicians to a new place of work,” says Anthony Willmot, a general practitioner who recently started working in Sundre after spending time in the community during his residency. “I think when you’re shown support by all the people that live in the community you’re not just a doctor putting in time at the clinic or the hospital, you’re actually part of the team and the community.”
“I’m just very grateful that I’m included in tonight’s evening,” adds Chantal Badger, a family medicine resident currently studying in Sundre. “It just makes me feel like part of the community and I feel like it’s become home in the past two weeks.”
/Article & Photos by Lesley Allan