Dr. David Hanton chose to relocate to Alberta from Scotland because the Canadian province offers a great life for doctors and healthcare professionals. Having been on holiday to Canada and with his father having already re-located there, David knew that Alberta offered life with style.
The process of Emigration took David about a year after accepting his job. He had to complete the Medical Council of Canada Evaluating Exam. David’s Work Visa was expedited and assistance was given by the local hospital board.
David chose to relocate to Castor in east Central Alberta. Castor is about a one and a half hour car trip from Red Deer, two and a half hours from Calgary in the south and the same distance to Edmonton in the north. It’s a farming community with a population of approximately 1,000 in the flatlands of the prairies. The main employers are in the farming and oil service industries.
His work allows him ample time to enjoy the wide variety of leisure activities available in Alberta where local communities are particularly friendly in nature. In the winter, skating, hockey, snow shoeing, cross–country skiing, snow mobiling and skiing are all easily available. In the hot summer, David can golf, fish, swim, camp and bike etc. All these hobbies are readily accessible and fairly inexpensive.
“I work as my own boss and I’m able to use all the skills I’ve learnt in SHO jobs and GP rotation.”
Castor has a small community hospital and David works there with a varied workload. He feels this variety keeps his life interesting and is a definite advantage. On call, he covers A & E and works in the clinics and surgeries. David carries out minor procedures, as well as admitting and caring for patients.
He comments: “I have the autonomy to make my own decisions, without bureaucracy from the government. I work as my own boss and I’m able to use all the skills I’ve learnt in SHO jobs and GP rotation.”
The more David works the more he can earn under the provincial government fee for service payment method.
Working as a doctor in the small rural community of Castor also offers many professional advantages. As a doctor, David has always been shown great respect in Castor and has become familiar with a large number of individual families.
There are two schools in Castor, offering education from preschool to University entrance level. A wide variety of courses are offered and there is a significant amount of “one on one” attention as class sizes tend to be relatively small.
David’s father and brother practice as doctors in the Bragg Creek and Killam regions of rural Alberta respectively. Killam is a similar type of community as Castor. It’s located 70 kilometres north of Castor and enjoys the same benefits as Castor. Bragg Creek, where David’s father works, is a little different. It’s a smaller community located close to Calgary and so has the amenities of the large city nearby. In the foothills of the Rockies, it has the benefit of the leisure activities the mountains offer.
David feels the advantages of working in Rural Alberta in comparison to Scotland are many. Professionally, there is much less regulatory interference and better remuneration. David is able to use more of his skills, as opposed to having a limited managerial role in the NHS. There is also an extensive, continued education programme funded through the Alberta government. There are opportunities for specialised funded training after 5 years of service in a rural community. In Alberta, David has been able to use his autonomy to investigate patients without specialist referral. There are also shorter patient waiting lists for tests and investigations.
David’s family partake in the many affordable, easily accessible leisure activities Alberta offers and enjoy eating out cheaply too. They live in an attractive detached house and drive new cars. “Having financial freedom and being able to afford to do the hobbies and leisure activities I like, are real benefits gained from living and working in rural Alberta. I can eat out regularly, take holidays and I afford nice housing and transportation. The nice climate allows me to enjoy a variety of outdoor activities.”
Canada has the highest standard of living in the world, of which David has first hand experience. He says: “If you’re interested in spreading your work horizons (and escaping the limits the NHS imposes on GP’s), improving your remuneration for work and greatly improving your standard of living, while avoiding the swirling mist and rain of the UK – give Alberta a try!”