When Dr. Abayomi Adetola—the latest doctor to join the Ashcroft Family Medical Clinic, on February 21—is asked about an interview, he says that he’d like to get the first day or two seeing patients under his belt first. When The Journal catches up with him at the end of the day on February 23 and asks how things have gone, he laughs and says “Three days, and I’m still here, still alive. I’ve been embraced, and my stress was shed. It’s been a very calm, very beautiful work experience.”
Adetola has come to the area from Saskatoon, where he has been practicing for seven years and where he was enrolled in a Master’s program at the University of Saskatchewan. He started practicing medicine in his native Nigeria in 2008, and originally planned to earn his Master’s in Saskatchewan and then return to Nigeria.
“After I finished my Master’s, though, Canada felt like home,” he says. “The people were so kind, and I chose to stay here.”
When he received a list of 10 to 12 communities throughout B.C. that were looking for physicians, he spent three weeks reading about each one: its history, its stories, and its community. The one he kept coming back to was Ashcroft.
“It was in line with my career plans. I liked the motto, the river, the mountains, the community. It’s very picturesque and beautiful. The people I spoke with in Ashcroft were very friendly and very nice. People come here in summer for the camping, for relaxation, and I wanted to come to where people relax. It convinced me this was home.”
He adds that fishing is one of his favourite extra-curricular activities, and his wife loves gardening. “That enhanced our choice [of Ashcroft]. I’m on contract here for three years, but this is going to be our home.”
He notes that while colleagues who have come here before him sometimes struggled to find accommodation, he found a house to rent two months before he was due to arrive with his wife and three-year-old son, who is enrolled at Desert Sands Community School. Adetola and his wife are expecting a second child later this year.
He took part in the Practice Ready Assessment program, and has been in communication with the local Wellness and Health Action Coalition (WHAC). “What they’re doing is great. I want to work with them and the other doctors to make this a better place.” He notes that under his three-year contract he cannot deliver babies (except in case of emergency), but after that he would like to look at expanding to include that.
He is now accepting patients, who can enroll at the clinic. “I want to build a rapport with patients that goes beyond treating them for medical conditions.” When asked what made him decide to become a family physician, he says “I want to be there when a child is born and as it grows, and you can only do that in a place where there’s stability. I like being a generalist. I’m able to help anyone, and I’m able to be there for people.”
David Durksen, the WHAC vice-chair, thanks Ashcroft’s Dr. Deborah Obu, Chellie Dickinson (coordinator of the Western Interior chapter of the Rural and Remote Division of Family Practice), and Lillooet’s Dr. Nancy Humber (medical director of the Rural and Remote division). “They were the ones who did the actual recruiting and got Dr. Adetola here. Them taking the lead made it easy for WHAC to support them. If doctors aren’t part of the recruiting process, it won’t work.
“And when we can get Dr. Adetola to a three/quarter patient load, we can start recruiting for a fourth doctor.”
Adetola is looking forward to his family being a part of the community for many years. “Being a general practitioner is a very good career for someone who likes to help. And I’m not just a doctor; I want to be a friend to those under my care, look beyond the medical. My Master’s degree is in preventive medicine, so I work together with the patient to address other things. To prevent diseases coming sooner, we put plans in place.
“My goal is to see everybody as a whole person, not a body part.”