Saskatchewan Career Spotlight is a new electronic publication coming to you directly from saskdocs. We have hundreds of people in many communities delivering high quality, team-based health care to the people of this province on a daily basis. Below are profiles of many of those individuals who were more than happy to share their stories. We've also thrown in another story profiling some of the attractions of the area in which these health care providers live.
If you have a story to share, send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org. We would love to profile you and your community.
April 26, 2017
Inside This Issue:
Many Benefits to Practising Rural Medicine for this U of S Graduate
“I don’t have a long commute or do a lot of driving to get to and from work. I see many of the same patients regularly so I know their medical history and I really like the health care team where I work.” These are some of the reasons why Dr. Christine Ryan chose to practise medicine in Shellbrook, a rural community approximately 50 kilometres west of Prince Albert, Saskatchewan.
“When I was in med-school I did both a rural experience and PREP (Physician Recruitment Agency of Saskatchewan Rural Externship) experience in Shellbrook and they were great. My aunt and uncle had a farm close to town so I would stay there and drive in with them every morning. That’s when I got see what practising doctors actually did and how they did it. One of the big reasons I chose to go back to Shellbrook and practise medicine was because I got to know the nurses that worked there. The doctors that worked there were really good too, but by the time I was done med school none of them were still around, so it was really the nurses that I had an opportunity to train with and the whole Shellbrook team that helped me decide where to practise.”
Originally from Unity, Saskatchewan, Dr. Ryan has been practising medicine in Shellbrook for several years now. She spends most of her day at the community’s new hospital and clinic. She sees many of the same patients at both locations; it all depends on the type of need that the patient has at the time. Dr. Ryan knew at an early age that medicine was going to be part of her professional future. After graduating from high school she enrolled in the University of Saskatchewan (U of S) for her undergrad and then applied to medical school. It was after getting into med school that Dr. Ryan started to think about what type of medicine she wanted to practise. After thinking about paediatrics early on, Dr. Ryan eventually found the rural, family medicine more and more appealing.
“I’m really glad I picked that path [rural family medicine]. I did check some other things out, but after doing PREP and the community experience when I was a med student, both of which I took in Shellbrook, I was quite confident I knew I wanted to practise rural, family medicine.”
Dr. Ryan’s typical day starts around 8 a.m., but it all depends on when patients arrive and when the rest of the health care team can come together. The day usually starts at the clinic, which is a primary care clinic so different people arrive at different times throughout the day. These appointments usually take her to the noon hour depending on patient needs. While at the clinic Dr. Ryan says one of the things she looks forward to is all staff having lunch together. The break gives them time to have lunch, do charting and even go for a walk if there’s time. Clinic hours resume after lunch until closing. After that Dr. Ryan again has time for charting and catching up on paperwork. Dr. Ryan works at least a few times a week at the Shellbrook hospital doing different procedures and then at least once a week at the community’s long-term care facility to meet her patients and see how they are doing. Dr. Ryan is also on call at least once a week (12-hour shifts), which keeps her busy as Shellbrook is one of the busier emergency departments in the region.
“Even if you’re not sure you want to go into rural medicine, give it a try. It may not ultimately be something you want to do, but the scope of practice you’ll experience in these places will give you a leg up on doing all types of medical procedures. I found that my rural training was strengthened by the stuff you can’t learn in a classroom. You get to do a bit of everything and that is a great skill set to have.”
Hear Dr. Ryan's story in her own words by watching it on Vimeo. While you're there, subscribe to saskdocs' Vimeo channel to learn more about the many great physicians we have practising in Saskatchewan.
Public Health is a Passion
Dr. Nnamdi Ndubuka is passionate about what he does. He lives and works in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, but his role as the Medical Health Officer for the Northern Inter Tribal Health Authority (NITHA) goes far beyond the borders of this thriving city. Dr. Ndubuka not only loves his work and the people he works with, he embraces the community where he lives, one that is situated on the banks of the North Saskatchewan River and is commonly referred to as the “Gateway to Saskatchewan’s North.”
Dr. Ndubuka came here from Nigeria looking for an opportunity to further his career. In 2012 he applied for a family physician opening in Melfort that a friend had referred to him. Soon Dr. Ndubuka found himself and his family moving to a new city and province. Since then the Ndubukas haven’t looked back.
“I just love it here,” said Dr. Ndubuka. “It is exciting to live and work in the North, there’s lots to do for both adults and kids; you have walking trails, biking trails, in-door sports facilities; my children play soccer and do ice skating; and I coach soccer as well. You can be anywhere in this city in about 10 minutes and the culture here is one we embrace.”
His employer, NITHA, is a one-of-a-kind, First Nations managed organization that delivers health programming to 33 northern on-reserve communities in six health regions across the province’s north. It is a region that is vast, sparsely populated and at times difficult to access. “A large proportion of the population served by NITHA is First Nation. My work in this area includes communicable disease surveillance such as monitoring HIV, tuberculosis, STI (Sexually Transmitted Infections) rates and mumps. These are all public health concerns that need to be monitored and controlled. They happen to be ones that I am very interested in learning more about so that is why I really love what I’m doing right now.”
NITHA is continually focusing on team-based primary health care. It delivers health care services to the people of the north through what is known as a third-level service. Third-level health services are provided by NITHA to bands and tribal councils. These services include disease monitoring, planning, education, training and technical support. The second level of service is provided by multi-community bands, tribal councils and in some cases, single bands in several communities. They deliver program design, implementation, administration and training of staff. The first level of services is provided in the community directly to community members. It is a unique way of delivering health care services and one that involves physicians like Dr. Ndubuka, nurses, pharmacists, dentists, dieticians, epidemiologists and more.
According to Dr. Ndubuka, another important aspect of delivering public health services is advocacy and education. “When you are trying to make an impact in a specific community on some public health issues, advocacy for better programming and disease awareness are key components of this job. It is this part of the job that I enjoy, although it is challenging because there are a variety of health issues to advocate for and educate people about and you’re doing all of these within a unique and dispersed population in Saskatchewan’s north.”
Dr. Ndubuka, his wife and four children are working, going to school and giving back to a community and province they now call home. NITHA, Prince Albert and Saskatchewan are happy to have them and glad they chose to live, work and play in a province where more physicians, health care workers and their families are welcome.
“Prince Albert is a great place to live and raise a family. I work in a profession I am passionate about, I can drive anywhere in the city within a few minutes and I have an opportunity give back through volunteering and being part of a larger community that has allowed me to do this all.”
Hear Dr. Ndubuka's story in his own words by watching it on Vimeo. While you're there, subscribe to saskdocs' Vimeo channel to learn more about the many great physicians we have practising in Saskatchewan.
Caring for People Inspires this Nurse Practitioner to Work in Saskatchewan’s North
Wendy Quinn has always held a special connection with northern Saskatchewan. Quinn is originally from Alberta, but moved to Prince Albert in the 1990s with her husband and felt at the time it was a better environment to further their careers in health care and dentistry.
“My husband and I, before we started a family, actually worked in northern communities including the eastern Arctic. After moving from there to Saskatchewan we initially thought that being closer to our families in Alberta was the best choice, but we found it was a struggle to professionally get ahead there. There are just more people and more competition for career postings. In the end, we looked at Saskatchewan and thought that we should give this another try and are we ever glad we did.”
After moving back to Saskatchewan in the early 2000s Quinn’s husband continued to move ahead with his dentistry career, they started a family and she worked predominantly as a primary care nurse in the northern communities. Through this experience she was able to obtain her nurse practitioner (NP) license and eventually move back to Prince Albert and start work in the area of geriatrics. Geriatrics became a passion for her and she then got her Masters in Adult/Gerontological NP. Her career focus is now in geriatrics and remote northern clinic work. To this day she has the privilege of doing both.
“We love it here in Prince Albert. It is really a close knit community; you don’t have to spend hours driving anywhere; our kids love the school they are in and we’ve made important friends that we really cherish. On the professional side, the compensation is as good or better than anywhere else; the cost of living is lower and professionally there is lots of room to grow.”
Quinn is also excited to work with people who are focused on one common goal – to deliver the best care possible to each patient under their care. This team-based approach is important to Quinn. The team consists of nurse practitioners, doctors, pharmacists, therapists to name a few of the professionals involved in delivering care, but the need for certain types of professionals varies from patient to patient, as does the care.
“The collaborative team function is the most effective way of delivering health care services. We have a whole team that draws from the strengths of each other. If there’s a good collaborative team, multi-disciplinary, working together for a person, there is no other way that I would go. I think it is the only way to deliver care.”
Another gratifying part of being a nurse practitioner in Prince Albert for Quinn is the sense of satisfaction she feels when she meets with a patient, listens to what they want and need, tries to understand how she and the rest of the care team can help that patient in the best way possible.
“The people that I see every day, whether it is here in Prince Albert in long-term care or during my visits to a community in the far North, give me purpose. I’ve been at this for about 25 years now and what I’ve learned is that when I approach people about the care they may need, I picture myself as a servant to their care. They tell me exactly what they need, I listen and I deliver. Any preconceived ideas or notions I may have had prior to meeting them are left at the door; personal biases are secondary. I think if there is one learning experience I can share with anyone who wants to be a nurse practitioner in a community like Prince Albert or northern Saskatchewan or for that matter anywhere, it is to take your own agenda off the table, humble yourself and listen. It will make a world of difference in how you do your job and provide service.”
Hear Wendy's story in her own words by watching the full interview on Vimeo.
You can also view hundreds of career postings, create a profile and apply online at www.healthcareersinsask.ca.
The Saskatchewan grand slam: 4 amazing north Saskatchewan canoe trips
Story and photos courtesy of Jimmy MacDonald
Jimmy MacDonald is a veteran whitewater canoe instructor and expedition guide with Churchill River Canoe Outfitters in northern Saskatchewan and around the planet.
As our guest writer/raconteur today, Jimmy shares his passion for Saskatchewan adventures, lakes, and rivers. Check out these four amazing canoe experiences in Jimmy’s absolute favourite place in the world—northern Saskatchewan.
We hear that Saskatchewan boasts over 100,000 lakes, but what about all our beautiful rivers? Virtually all our lakes are connected by rapids, waterfalls, and river systems. The name ‘Saskatchewan’ comes from the Cree word for ‘swift flowing river.’ So in my mind, rivers are our province’s greatest attribute.
Here are four of my absolute favourite rivers to canoe:
1. Churchill River
Ready for a great canoeing adventure?
Before you go: stop in at Montreal River Outpost in Air Ronge to rent canoes or pick up last minute items. Next, you’ll start the quintessential Saskatchewan weeklong canoe trip from the northern village of Missinipe on Otter Lake. After you load your canoe and camping gear at Osprey Wings docks into a 50-year-old de Havilland Beaver, you’ll take a short flight to one of numerous island-studded lakes on the Churchill River and be set to launch. My favourite is the gorgeous Black Bear Island Lake.
The Churchill River is likely the most family friendly and relaxing trip around. Paddlers are treated to warm water and fun, consequence-free rapids. There are top-notch campsites on rocky outcrops to bask in the summer sun (which barely drops below the horizon in the summer). History abounds along this route, too. If you pay attention, you’ll notice the once jagged rocks along the portage trails have been smoothed over by the footsteps of hundreds of years of moccasin footsteps.
Remember to kick back and relax in the wilderness. You might get a chance to see the osprey feed on walleye as they dive dramatically into the rapids for their prey. The biggest mistake people make is NOT taking longer to do this trip. Here’s a sample video of the fun you can have.
2. Clearwater River
This is an amazing whitewater adventure. The Clearwater River is accessed via highway 955 north of La Loche or else through the floatplanes in Buffalo Narrows flown by Barry O’Brien at Voyage Air. The Clearwater River is action packed, and for those trying to check off places in The Great Saskatchewan Bucket List, this river contains some spectacular must see spots!
With constantly flowing water, sometimes your problem on this river is trying to slow down and soak it all in. The skilled canoeist is rewarded with countless rapids that seem to go on forever bouncing between boulders and rock walls like a gigantic pinball machine.
This trip includes the infamous Methye Portage, which was the longest voyageur portage trail in Canada and the most important link during the fur trade. Pro tip: your trip just isn’t complete until you’ve seen the sunset on the foreboding cliffs of Skull Canyon. Watch the last rays of the sun light up the orange, lichen-covered rocks in an intense glow. Magic.
3. Cree River
If fishing whets your appetite more than the adrenaline rush of running rapids, then the Cree River is the Holy Grail of rivers to paddle in Saskatchewan. Flowing from 160 km due north from Cree Lake to Black Lake, you’re best to fly into this river from Points North Landing.
The headwaters boast a healthy population of monster lake trout, while the river is positively frothing in the upper stretches with Arctic grayling, all ready to launch out of the water for your fishing lures. As you float leisurely down the 150 km of easy rapids, there are massive northern pike lurking in the weedy bays waiting to attack anything cast their way. If you’re dedicated, you’ll be delighted by deep cold pools filled with walleye.
Six people is the secret number to keep costs down and maximize the load capacity of the Turbo Otters. Your only concern will be making sure you don’t run out of Fish Crisp as you float down the river, feet up and basking in the sun, looking for fish in Saskatchewan’s clearest water.
4. Fond du Lac River
I saved the best for last—the Fond du Lac River holds a special place in my heart. The endless white-sand beaches and crystal clear waters make me reminisce of leading sea kayak trips in the Caribbean Sea.
Flowing from the third-largest lake in Saskatchewan, it twists and turns its way down to Lake Athabasca through the sandstone canyons. It’s easily accessible by road—Cameco accommodates canoeists and allows escorted access through their Eagle Point Mine Complex to launch from their docks on Wollaston Lake. Part of the allure to paddling the Fond du Lac is the ability to have an exceptional wilderness experience but access the river directly from a road. This is a huge plus—it keeps this trip affordable for the budget minded paddler.
There’s something for everyone on this trip. You’ll see:
- countless challenging Class III rapids
- campsites that boast towering Jack Pine forests with the only undergrowth being a soft spongy layer of caribou lichen and blueberries
- a rich history involving the First Nations and more modern fur trade era, including Canada’s most famous explorer/cartographer, David Thompson
There you have it: my four favourite northern Saskatchewan canoe adventures. This is just a sampling of trips, though, as there are seemingly endless adventures that await you on the waterways of northern Saskatchewan. There are not enough days in summer, or years in your life, to explore all the amazing canoe trips in our province. So you’d best get out there and get your paddles in the water soon!