Second anesthesiologist starts at the Slave Lake Hospital

Pearl Lorentzen
Lakeside Leader

Dr. Odili Okwuosa is a general practitioner with anesthesiology (GPA). He started working in the Slave Lake Family Care Clinic and Healthcare Centre in early March. He’s the second GPA to join the medical team in the last seven months. He works in the emergency room, the clinic and hospital.

Dr. Okwuosa has been a doctor for 18 years. He has two medical degrees the first from Ebonyi Institute University in Nigeria. After his medical degree in Nigeria, Dr. Okwuosa did a masters in medicine at the Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa.

The other GPA in Slave Lake, Dr. Lerm, met his wife while they were both studying at Stellenbosch University.

Before studying medicine, Okwuosa studied biochemistry for two years in Nigeria. In Nigeria, this is unusual. Doctors tend to go straight into medicine.

In Canada, doctors study pre-med or another degree before going into medicine.

Dr. Okwuosa practiced medicine in Cape Town for several years. Three years ago, he, his, wife and four children moved to Edmonton. The move was so his children could have a better life than he did.

At the beginning of March, Dr. Okwuosa moved to Slave Lake. The plan is for his wife and kids to move later. The children are 13, 11, 10, and six.

Dr. Okwuosa had only been in Slave Lake for a week at the time of the interview, so he hadn’t had much time to make an impression of the town.

“I like outdoor activities,” he said. He enjoys camping, running, and athletics such as table tennis and swimming.

“I have a set of skills,” Dr. Okwuosa, says about the reason for starting to work in Slave Lake. “I need to start using them. I like small towns. You get to know everyone. It’s a little bit contained. In theory, everyone’s supposed to be friendly.”

In Edmonton, hospitals are departmentalized. In South Africa, Dr. Okwuosa did a little bit of everything. In Slave Lake, he’s finding it the same.

Dr. Okwuosa has experiences with both urban and rural living. He grew up in a village in the eastern part of Nigeria. He’s a member of the Igbo, which is both a people group and a language. It is one of the three main Indigenous languages in Nigeria.

Igbo is the third most commonly spoken language, says The World Factbook. It is spoken by 15.2 per cent of the population.

Dr. Okwuosa speaks English and Igbo.

Like Canada, both Nigeria and South Africa were British colonies for many years. The official language of Nigeria is English. South Africa has 11 official languages including English.

Nigeria is in West Africa on the Gulf of Guinea, off the Atlantic Ocean, says The World Factbook. It is on the southern part of the large bump on the northern part of the African continent. The capital city is Abuja, which is in the centre of the country.

Even before moving to Canada, Dr. Okwuosa had moved quite far.

Nigeria and South Africa are far apart. As the crow flies, Nigeria to South Africa is 4,644 kilometres. It is 11,117 kilometres from the Abuja to Edmonton, which is 2.39 times the distance from Nigeria to South Africa.

Put in more practical terms, a Google driving estimate from Abuja to Cape Town is 92 hours (7,141.2 km).

Google estimates it takes only 50 hours (5,030 km) to drive from Slave Lake to Mexico City. This is 42 hours and almost 2,000 km less than from Abuja to Cape Town.

Dr. Odili Okwuosa.

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