“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 practice 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 practicing 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 go to know the nurses that worked there. The doctors that worked there were really good to, 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 practice.”
Originally from Unity, Saskatchewan Dr. Ryan has been practicing 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 practice. 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 practice rural, family medicine.”
Dr. Ryan’s typical day starts around 8 am, 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.