The problem with living here

The problem with living in northern/rural/remote communities is you can’t always get what you want. If a doctor on call at three in the morning is what you want, for example, you might be out of luck.

You might be in luck if there’s an ambulance available on that particular night to take you to a community that does have 24-hour coverage. Or not.

Rising expectations make this situation unacceptable.

Politicians make all the right noises. The health care management body does too. Great efforts are being made, etc.

Municipal leaders get into the act. It’s never been any of their responsibility, this health care professional recruitment thing, but it is becoming part of the job nevertheless. If a community doesn’t do everything it can think of, it might miss the boat. That’s how the thinking goes.

A doctor who is willing to locate to a place like Slave Lake or – even rarer – Wabasca, is worth his or her weight in gold. Write your own ticket, sort of thing. That is the way it seems to be going.

It makes you wonder: if it’s so hard to attract physicians (and others) to a place just three or four hours from the big city, how hard must it be to get somebody to work in Tuktyoyaktuk? Maybe the key is not to allow your expectations get too high, and resolve to be grateful for what you have.

However, try telling that to someone whose child is facing a medical emergency.

One thing we can do is whatever we can to stay healthy. There is a lot of room for improvement in this area, generally. A lot that can be done. And of course it is a lot easier to say than to do. Eat better; exercise more. Steer clear of risky, harmful behaviour.

On the other side of the equation, there is a lot we (yes, every individual) can do to make a community more attractive and less unattractive. So that maybe the nursing graduate will want to live and work here.

In the meantime, patience is called for. The authorities can provide incentives, within reason. But they can’t force people to come and work in the north. People have to want to do it. Right about now, with everything green and blooming, and just before bugs get bad, would be a good time to show somebody around!

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