Testimonial letter from Dr Skye Raffard
My name is Dr Skye Raffard and I am one of the obstetrician-gynecologists here in Williams Lake. I heard about you from our staff and thought I would write you a little about our community, as I understand you might be interested in a position in the Cariboo.
We like to share our enthusiasm about this remarkable area of British Columbia, and our friendly and supportive medical staff with potential recruits by e-mail, phone calls, or in person. Even though I am BC born and raised, I knew very little about this part of BC before I chanced to come here for a short locum 15 years ago. How glad I am that I ended up here! We realize we need to encourage doctors to see past the "smallness" of our little town to the "bigness" of the opportunity here, so that we are not inadvertently passed over.
What I like to tell people about the Cariboo is that the climate is WONDERFUL. We have 314 sunny days a year - one of the four sunniest places in BC, the others being Victoria, Cranbrook, and Atlin Lake. There are four distinct seasons. Winters are a lovely minus 10, snowy with clear sunny blue skies, and not so cold that outdoor sports are impossible. Spring and fall are beautiful, and summers are hot and sunny with a few fabulous thunderstorms on this high central plateau. While we do have cactus growing on hot, south-facing slopes, this is no desert. We have trees, rocks, streams, lakes, hiking, biking, camping, swimming, skiing, and horses horses horses.
Williams Lake has hosted an annual Stampede for close to 90 years, the second-largest rodeo in Canada, second to the Calgary Stampede. Twenty thousand people arrive for the four-day event, from all over North America. There are several other rodeos throughout the year, as well as provincial barrel racing championships, high school and indoor rodeos, and on and on. Riding is big here. Children start riding young. Our Stampede grounds are right downtown and the other day I noticed that the pedestrian crosswalk button for the highway is at the height of a rider!
While the outdoor recreation opportunities are truly staggering, something no potential recruit should miss is the collegiality of the medical community. Before I arrived I really did not understand the scope of practice here. We have three full-time general surgeons, three OB-GYNs, busy OR slates, a four-bed ICU, emergency physicians running a busy ER, and capable family doctors willing and able to be on what amounts to a frontline. We are three hours by road to a larger centre. Even with logging, mining, ranching, railyards, a big cattle shipping/bull sale industry, and far flung hunting and fishing lodges serviced only by floatplane, we are surprisingly remote. Yet it takes only one hour to fly to Vancouver to go to the opera; as a matter of fact, I have seasons tickets.
Our family doctors therefore must be good generalists, particularly when we have had to do without an internist. Happily that is changing with one internist starting this fall (we are very happy with him), and as we expand to recruit three internists in total. You might imagine that 1-in-3 call would be overwhelming: it is not. I've done it for years and have been well supported by capable GPs desirous of maintaining their hands-on skills, grateful for specialist support, and cognizant of not creating burnout in their colleagues.
In a small place you can create and direct your practice with a degree of autonomy that is just not possible in a large centre or nowadays. This, I think, is the best thing we have to offer. With a huge catchment area that stretches to Bella Coola on the coast, the Cariboo mountains on the east, and a sizeable First Nations population, we have interesting medicine and the opportunity to make a real impact in peoples' lives.
Give us a call to hear more about our wonderful region, or come to visit and see in person why so many of us arrived as locums but never left.
Local Physician highlights benefits of practising medicine and a great lifestyle in Blog: Ride the Cariboo