Iranian doctors make Moosomin home
Doctors Pour and Oveisi covering emergency services and walk-in at Southeast Integrated Care Centre
by Kara Kinna (originally published in the Moosomin World Spectator - February 2016)
Two new doctors have signed a three-year contract with the Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region, and are now calling Moosomin home.
Dr. Alireza Karimi Pour and Dr. Javad Oveisi are both working at the Southeast Integrated Care Centre, covering the emergency room and the walk-in clinic at the hospital five days a week, from Monday to Friday. On Saturdays and Sundays, those duties are taken over by the doctors at the Moosomin Family Practice Centre.
Pour and Oveisi both signed a contract with the health region after being approved through the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment (SIPPA) program.
After passing a number of criteria and writing a number of exams, the two doctors were placed at clinics in Melville and North Battleford for a few months as part of the program before starting work.
Dr. Pour explains how the process worked.
“Before the SIPPA program, there was an interview,” he says. “We applied through the SIPPA website and we posted our qualifications and then different regions contacted us.
“Some people from Regina Qu’Appelle contacted me and said they needed doctors here and asked if I would be interested in working here and I said yes. After that first call we had several other interviews and then I was invited to apply for the SIPPA program.
“I went to Saskatoon first. We did three examinations—practical and written examinations—and then after that I joined Melville which was a three-month practical assessment working in the clinic, and then after I finished that I started working here in Moosomin.” Dr. Oveisi went through similar process, doing his practical assessment in North Battleford before coming to Moosomin.
Both doctors are from Iran, where they spent many years in medical practice before they chose to make Canada their new home.
Pour—who is now a Canadian citizen—moved to Calgary to take his masters in neuroscience through the University of Alberta, where he also got a chance to do some medical research, an experience he cherishes.
Oveisi came to Canada with his family in 2009 and he originally settled in Toronto.
“I studied in Tehran and I practiced in Iran for about 15 years, then we immigrated to Canada in 2009 with my family, my wife and my daughter,” he says. Oveisi says he’s thrilled to be in Moosomin. “I like Moosomin,” he says. “My daughter loves her school. She’s in Grade 3. She likes the school teachers—they are very good, excellent teachers. “I personally like the school much better than the school that my daughter used to go to in Toronto. “I like the community, I like the people. People are very welcoming.”
Pour says he liked the opportunities that Canada provided, which prompted his move to Canada.
“I have chosen Canada as my home. I am a Canadian citizen now,” says Pour.
“I like Canada. I have so many friends in Canada. Some of them are doctors practicing medicine here. And Canada’s such a peaceful country—it’s very good for many immigrants. And there were opportunities then, so I decided to come to Canada. Initially when I applied to the University of Alberta to do some research there. I got the opportunity to go to the University of Alberta which is one of the best universities in Canada, and I had the chance to work with five different specialists.
“It was a good opportunity. I really like doing research, and then I got the chance to pass my exams and go through this program.” Both Oveisi and Pour have practiced in large cities, as well as rural areas during their careers.
Oveisi says he prefers small-town life. “I personally prefer small towns better than larger cities,” he says. “To have peace of mind, it is better to live in small towns than large ones.
“There’s no pollution, no traffic jams,” adds Pour with a smile. “And noise, it’s not noisy,” says Oveisi. “I used to live on a very crowded street in Toronto and I did not like that street.”
“The town is a little town but people are very friendly,” says Pour. “I like it because it’s not too far from Regina and Brandon and if I need to do some shopping or see some friends—I have friends in Regina—I can go and see them.”
Both Pour and Oveisi say the SIPPA program is challenging, but it offers doctors from other countries one of the best chances of being able to practice medicine in Canada.
“It is very competitive of course,” says Pour, “especially recently with so many people from other countries applying for the program. But the SIPPA program is one of the best changes for IMGs—international medical graduates—who have all the criteria and requirements. Not everyone has the requirements, because the requirements are not easy, but those who have and who join the program, once they pass the exams they have a good chance. And the assessment exams are not easy to write.”
Pour says the other good thing about the SIPPA program is that it includes extra exams that are challenging, but allow for experienced doctors to start practicing right away if they pass the program, without having to do their residency over again.
“The SIPPA program has three extra exams which are not easy to pass,” he says. “So the good thing about the SIPPA program is that we were very experienced physicians. We didn’t think we needed to do our residency again. The SIPPA program provides us with the opportunity, if you pass those exams, to start working right away, so you don’t have to go through a residency program and do one or two years of a residency program again.”Oveisi says he applied for SIPPA because he had heard good things about living and working in Saskatchewan.
“We have different provincial programs but the nature of Saskatchewan, I like it here,” he says. “I heard good things about people so that was one of the reasons I chose to come here. People are nice here.”
Before coming to Moosomin to work together, Oveisi and Pour also had the added bonus of getting to know each other first, as they both took the SIPPA program at the same time.
“The very first day we were at the same hotel in Regina,” says Oveisi with a laugh.
“We met in Regina and then we went to Saskatoon,” says Pour. “We were in the same building because we did some of the exams in Saskatoon for a month. So we were in the same building and we even prepared for the exams together.”