To the Editor:
I have been following with interest the coverage surrounding the pending physician shortages in Creston. I have noted especially that people seem to be concerned that a doctor was being “forced to leave”, despite the great and ever-growing need for doctors in the community. There also seems to be a great deal of outrage that the doctors of Creston do not have the best interests of the community at heart.
As a current medical student, stories like this are very disheartening. The general belief among medical students is that doctors willingly sacrifice a great amount so that we can gain a great amount: a job that enables us to help others. It is depressing to hear that people in Creston are forgetting the service and dedication given by their medical community. It seems that blame is being laid inappropriately on the doctors, and doctors are being alienated.
All doctors in B.C. are expected to qualify for licensing and register with the college of physicians and surgeons, regardless of where their training was done. This ensures that all doctors can meet the same professional standards. In the medical profession, all accusations of harm — perceived or real harm, to individual patients or to the community — are taken very seriously. People who truly have been harmed by the actions of a physician should by all means take the appropriate course of action through the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC. However, false accusation and uninformed, irrational public outrage is not a reasonable method of dealing with the true problem at hand: a physician shortage.
As someone who will soon be entering the workforce as a physician, I am already thinking about where I plan to live and practice. I have considered returning to my hometown, but given the recent events and the apparent distrust of physicians, it is highly unlikely that I would ever actually want to practice in Creston. Though Creston is a great place to raise a family, things like a collegial work environment and a supportive community are also very important. When it seems that a community does not support, appreciate, and like the (very excellent) doctors it does have, why would a new doctor ever want to set up a practice? It is very evident just from reading the paper that Creston is currently not a very nice place to be practicing medicine.
Instead of blaming doctors for circumstances that are beyond individual control, perhaps the people of Creston should be thankful for the years of dedicated service and support that has been given by the medical community. It would be wise to remember that though physicians perform a public service, they can practice where they want. When a community singles out doctors and makes them feel unwanted, there is very little stopping individual physicians from picking up and moving somewhere else. Doctors are needed everywhere in Canada, not just in Creston. It would be difficult to tell any of my friends or colleagues that Creston is a great place to work when there are so many other places that truly welcome their doctors and recognize what the physicians add to the community.
When I am a physician, I will have my pick of thousands of communities across the country and the world who will desire my services. I know that when I make my decision about where to live, I will not be working in a place that devalues and belittles its doctors. I will choose to work somewhere where I know I will be welcomed, supported, and appreciated.