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This new family doctor in Hampton already has his hands full

This new family doctor in Hampton already has his hands full
This new family doctor in Hampton already has his hands full

اخبار العرب-كندا 24: السبت 22 يونيو 2024 08:52 صباحاً

It's been only a year since Dr. Scott Fenwick completed his residency program — and only three years since he graduated from the Dalhousie medical school in New Brunswick.

But despite that, Fenwick already has a full roster as a family doctor in Hampton.

Given the current shortage of primary care givers in New Brunswick, he said some people may describe family medicine as "an onerous task," or suggest going into a specialty, but once Fenwick got a taste of it, he never looked back.

"Family medicine was for me," he said.

Fenwick grew up in Quispamsis, so when he got the chance to work with a family doctor in Hampton during his second year of medical school, he wasn't too far from home.

Dr. Fenwick finished his residency program a year ago in family medicine, a path that he says was for him.

Dr. Fenwick finished his residency program a year ago in family medicine, a path that he says was for him.

Dr. Fenwick finished his residency program a year ago in family medicine, a path that he says was right for him. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

Then, when Dr. James Collings contacted Fenwick to say he was looking to retire from his Hampton practice, Fenwick knew it would be a good fit.

Fenwick and his wife, Alyssa Fenwick, who is a doctor in the Saint John area, divided the roster of patients, leaving him with about 800 charts to familiarize himself with — and digitize.

Taking over a medical practice isn't ideal for everyone, as it involves a lot of administrative work on top of treating patients. However, Dalhousie University's faculty of medicine has seen improvement in matching new physicians to family practices.

WATCH This doctor was confident family medicine was path for him:

The school said 52 per cent of 2024 Dalhousie medical graduates chose a residency in family medicine, up from 25 per cent in 2018.

And specific to the Dalhousie medical school in New Brunswick, 15 of the 33 graduates matched to family medicine programs this year.

Fenwick is practicing medicine in Hampton, only a short trip from where he grew up, in Quispamsis, and where he went to medical school, in Saint John.

Fenwick is practicing medicine in Hampton, only a short trip from where he grew up, in Quispamsis, and where he went to medical school, in Saint John.

Fenwick is practising medicine in Hampton, only a short trip from where he grew up in Quispamsis and where he went to medical school, in Saint John. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

In a news release, the school credits the jump in numbers to the creation of the Family Medicine Project Charter. Under the guidance of the charter, various opportunities for exposure to family medicine were created within the curriculum.

But despite progress being made, choosing the career and even taking over a successful practice still comes with its own challenges.

Since taking over, Fenwick hasn't taken on any new patients, but having grown up nearby, it isn't always easy to set that boundary.

Fenwick worked to digitize the files of his patients that he accepted upon taking over an established practice.

Fenwick worked to digitize the files of his patients that he accepted upon taking over an established practice.

Fenwick worked to digitize the files of his patients that he accepted upon taking over an established practice. (Roger Cosman/CBC)

He said he's often stopped at the local hockey rink or grocery store and asked if he will take someone on, and he is also asked by his current patients about adding their friends and family.

But the only thing he can tell them is to register with the provincial waitlist, "which is growing, unfortunately."

"There is the balance of wanting to help a lot of people, but then also wanting to have timely access to care for those people," said Fenwick.

"As you know with the New Brunswick Health Council numbers, the number of people that have a family doctor has gone down, but also the wait times to see their family doctor or primary care provider has gone up.

"If you say yes to everybody, then you'll be totally swarmed and then access to care for the people that are rostered under you goes down."

Fenwick said there is also a requirement that, for example, if one of his patients were to be admitted to the Saint John Regional Hospital with heart failure or pneumonia, he would be required to see them or find an arrangement for them to be seen everyday.

He said there's a group of 12 family doctors from the Hampton and Kennebecasis-Valley area that take turns doing a week at a time.

Last week, when Fenwick did his rotation, he said he spent the whole time caring for people in the hospital and wasn't able to return to the office.

While his practice partner was able to see to the urgent matters, it still creates a bit of a backlog for weeks to come.

"There's a growing number of people without primary care providers," he said.

"So our number of weeks required to the hospital are growing."

That's unfortunate, Fenwick said, "because we don't have as many community providers as we would like, and it further kind of exacerbates the problem of having to be out of your office.

"So then, unfortunately, people come into the emergency department then get admitted to the hospital, and it's kind of a vicious cycle."

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