Leanne Goose, Inuvik's physician recruiter, performed in the Empress Hotel at the 21st Annual Rural and Remote Medicine Course of the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC) held in Victoria, BC, April 4 - 6, 2013.
The conference was attended by close to 900 rural physicians, residents and students. It was good to meet many previous locums, as well as those who are interested in coming to Inuvik in the future.
Here is Leanne with Lee Teperman, SRPC Administrative Officer and Braam de Klerk, SRPC President.
Two intrepid rural Australian physicians visited Inuvik recently to see how rural medicine is practised in the arctic. Professor Richard Murray is Dean of Medicine and Head of the School of Medicine and Dentistry at James Cook University (JCU). Dr. Sophie Couzos, his wife, is Professor of General Practice and Rural Medicine at the same university. Richard is currently President of ACCRM (the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine) one of two colleges in Australia responsible for setting and arbitrating standards for the medical specialty of general practice. Their programs particularly focus on the unique scope and depth of clinical skills, knowledge and values that are required by practitioners working in rural and remote contexts.
Richard, Peter Clarkson (Public Administrator for the Beaufort-Delta Health and Social Services Authority) and Braam de Klerk.
Although the cold temperatures and snow were new, the medical challenges and joys were very familiar.
Can you see Australia down there?
Last November, longtime Inuvik Hospital employee and leader of Louie Goose and the Mackenzie Delta Band, received the Lifetime Achievement Award at the Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards in Winnipeg. Louie is the father and music mentor of Physician Recruiter, Leanne Goose, who wrote a song in his honour and performed with him on stage.
“The Aboriginal Peoples Choice Music Awards (APCMA’s) Lifetime Achievement Award is one of the highest musical honours bestowed to our people and Mr. Goose is very deserving of this award. Not only did he introduce live music to the community, he ensured its’ growth and survival by sharing his talent and wisdom with so many. Mr. Goose truly has made and continues to make a profound musical impact on your community," said Jean LaRose, Chief Executive Officer of Aboriginal Peoples Television Network.
Anyone who has heard Louie's performance of Sweet Caroline at longterm care celebrations will agree!
Dr. Phil Shea discovered Inuvik when his daughter and her husband came as teachers to Paulatuk, one of our communities. After a lifetime in urban practice, Inuvik offered him a new opportunity to experience full service GP practice. He came for a locum last Christmas and liked it so much that he has already returned a few times and plans to come again.
In this picture, Phil and his wife, Sally, are about to go into the ice house in Tuktoyaktuk. For more pictures of Tuktoyaktuk, follow this link.
UBC resident, Chelsey Ricketts, paints a very positive picture of her Inuvik experience:
Nearly four year ago, as a second year medical student interested in rural medicine, I stumbled across a blog (www.polardoc.typepad.com) about a unique hospital in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. The blog – maintained by the hospital’s medical director, Dr. Braam de Klerk – highlighted the opportunities available there for medical students, residents, and locum physicians. I followed Dr. de Klerk’s blog for the next few years, and was inspired by the photos and stories of the residents and physicians posted there periodically.
When it came time for me to consider residency programs, the possibility of doing a rotation in Inuvik during my PGY-2 year heavily influenced my choice of UBC’s Northern Rural Program. Now, over the past four months, I have been able to have my own experience north of the Arctic Circle.
Working in the Inuvik Regional Hospital has surpassed my expectations in every conceivable respect. I have applied literally every discipline of medicine, multiple times throughout every day. As a resident here, you admit patients and follow them until they are discharged or transferred. You work two or three shifts in the emergency room each week, dealing with issues of wide-ranging acuity and honing the skills of inter-professional communication and transfer, which are critical in rural medicine. You have the opportunity to spend mornings in the operating room with GP surgeons and visiting specialists, and are often able to act as first assistant. Residents and medical students are heavily involved in obstetrics as well, with 2-3 deliveries per week, and the opportunity to follow patients from prenatal through to postnatal care. Several half-days in the general medicine clinic are scheduled per week, and staff members offer daily teaching sessions on topics in rural medicine.
The Inuvik Regional Hospital also serves a number of smaller communities in the Western Arctic. Learners are able to travel with a staff member for visiting clinics, which helps improve their understanding of the social and cultural background of the population that the hospital serves, as well as to appreciate the challenges facing nursing stations in remote communities. Inuvik offers a magnificent rural medicine training experience. Residents and medical students are part of a team of professionals that provides life-long care in a supportive and collegial atmosphere. For me, this has been the most rewarding and memorable rotation of my medical training by far. I feel incredibly fortunate to have had this opportunity and I certainly hope to be back.
Every summer UBC sends a few 3rd year students to experience rural medicine in Inuvik. This year Kiera Dheensaw and Anthony Bryson were exposed to the North and its wonders.
The 24th Great Northern Arts Festival opens on July 13th, 2012. From their website: "Since 1989, up to 80 visual artists and 40 performers from across the North gather each summer in Inuvik to celebrate the diversity that is Canada's North. They are Inuit, Inuvialuit, Gwich'in, Dene, Metis and many of Canada's additional First Nations, as well as non-Aboriginal artists and artisans; they come from as far away as Pangnirtung on Baffin Island, Gjoa Haven in the Arctic Archipelago, Fort Smith on the NWT/Alberta border, and from the Yukon Territory. They come to show their work, meet other artists, see different styles of work and learn new techniques.
"The First Great Northern Arts Festival was held in July, 1989. It is an annual event occuring in mid-July and lasts for approximately 10 days. At inception, the festival hosted 35 artists from the Northwest Territories. In the 13th year, the Festival hosted 92 artists from across the Canadian North, as well as 14 musicians and performers, from as far away as Alaska, the Orkney Islands of Scotland, and the Yucatan in Mexico."
Come join us!
Residents Camisha Mayes and Matthias Beckmann (all the way from Germany) in company of the Inuvik airport polar bear.
Matthias and Camisha with UBC students, Christopher Turski and Gerren Martin - enjoying a Dempster Highway road trip in spring.
Christopher, Gerren and Camisha at Jak Park, just outside Inuvik.
Matthias Beckman in the Tuk permafrost community freezer! (More pictures of the community freezer.)
UBC resident, Mike Slatnik provided these pictures of a recent community visit to Tuk. Thanks Mike!
The bright sunshine does not banish the cold!
Lots of snow
Clear skies = spectacular northern lights!
Do you want to explore the arctic? Inuvik has job opportunities for family physicians. See this post for more information
Inuvik welcomed the new year with fireworks at the Sunrise Festival. Now we're waiting to see the sun!
For more pictures, go to
Leanne Goose started working as Physician Recruiter and Administrative Assistant to the Medical Director in the beginning of September 2011. Her voice will be the one greeting you when you call the office and she will be the person arranging locum and elective details.
You can read more about Leanne (and listen to some of her songs) on her website:
"Leanne began singing at the age of 12 & comes from a family of musicians. Her father, Louie has maintained his position as one of the North's finest performers with a career spanning over 45 years & still going strong.
"Leanne's music reflects her life in Canada's North. Long nights spent in darkness and days with no light. The inspiration and motivation is every day living, love of home land, the people, the culture - the messages are universal."
Here is a new website with lots of information about working in the Northwest Territories and a link to Inuvik as well.
Crossing the Mackenzie river can be a scary undertaking in springtime when the ice bridge over the river starts to melt and before the ferry makes the crossing safe again. Victoria locum Jill Kelly took these pictures with her phone while trying to keep the car going, on a recent trip to the clinic in Tsiigehtchic, 120 kms south of Inuvik. Stories of her demise and swimming the Mackenzie river are greatly exaggerated, but she did have to use a paddle to reach the other side !!!!!!
One of the airlines flying the northern route from Edmonton to Inuvik is First Air. This picture was taken on the Yellowknife airport where all passengers have to deplane before continuing to Inuvik. On the way further north (and from Inuvik to Yellowknife) passengers do not have to go through airport security. In the arctic there are no bad guys ;)
Part of the joys of flying during the arctic winter is that the wings often need de-icing.
UBC residents, Jacelyn Hanson and Jason Fedwick, as well as Susi Flaig, medical student all the way from Germany took advantage of the early snow to go dog sledding at Arctic Chalet
Everybody who has worked in the Inuvik Regional Hospital will remember Sue Clarkson, our team leader in Acute Care. In April 2009 Sue was diagnosed with T-cell lymphoma. While she's still feeling well, Sue and her friend, Debbie MacDonald, decided to participate in the Nike Woman's Marathon & 1/2 Marathon on Oct 18th in San Francisco as a member of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada’s Team In Training to help others with blood cancers.
Her training went very well and Sue running became a familiar sight in Inuvik.
"With one month left before the marathon, I realized a valuable lesson . I have been training consistently and enjoying all of the hard work and gains...until I developed a stress fracture in my right leg 3 weeks ago. As a result, I have had to let go of my personal goal to complete the marathon in 4 and a half hours. I initially was very disappointed, but have since got over myself. I reflected on the reason that I wanted to do the marathon in the beginning - to raise money and awareness for this cancer I have and the many others that do not have an option to run a marathon. I am grateful that I can participate and will complete the full marathon in just the right amount of time. "
We're sure that Sue will finish gracefully! You can support Sue by going to her website
As part of the Colorectal Cancer Screening Project, the Giant Colon (administered by the Colorectal Cancer Association) came all the way from Montreal to Inuvik, just in time for dr. John Morse's last scope clinic in Inuvik.
The exhibit was well attended by the people of Inuvik and everybody knows a lot more about the colon, thanks to Dr. Preventino and local experts.
As is the custom, the town's firefighters made a huge bonfire - very welcome because it was bitterrly cold
and put on a display of fireworks
One of the highlights of the year!
Tuktoyaktuk is one of the 7 communities serviced by Inuvik physicians. Visits take place every five weeks and last for two or three days. In summer it is a short flight from Inuvik to Tuk, but in winter it is possible to drive there on the ice road (the frozen Mackenzie River).
Jennifer Cram, UBC resident from Kelowna, dips her toe in the arctic ocean.
For more pictures, click here
Summer is the time for driving down the Dempster Highway (see map here) and camping along the way. The Dempster Highway is Canada’s only all-season public road to cross the Arctic Circle. Starting near Dawson City this 736 km unpaved two-lane highway traverses North Yukon all the way to Inuvik.
Susan Bryan reports on her trip in the last week of May 2008:
I spent a most enjoyable 2 weeks working as a locum anaesthetist in Inuvik. After the work period, my daughter and I rented a car and went on a one week camping and birding expedition down the Dempster Highway. The weather was great - warm enough to sleep in the tent, but still very few insects, and 24 hours of daylight. We managed to find an incredible 103 species of birds, many of them "lifers" as they are species found only in the western Arctic region. We also saw some interesting mammals including Grizzly Bear, Moose, Caribou, Dall's Sheep and Arctic Ground Squirrel.
One wildlife encounter was a little too close for comfort. After birding and driving all day we finally picked a secluded roadside spot to pitch our tent for the night. I was busy building the fire and preparing dinner while my daughter pitched the tent. Suddenly she looked up and not 10 meters away was a large Black Bear watching us at work. No doubt he was happy that dinner would soon be ready! We tried honking the car horn but he didn't budge. We got out the "Bear bangers" ready to fire in case he charged. We quickly threw the tent and all the food and dishes into the back of the car, jumped in and locked the doors. Phew!
From the safety of the car my daughter took a few photos as the disappointed bear ambled off into the bushes. We decided not to attempt camping again that night and drove for another three hours to reach Inuvik around midnight.
More pictures can be found here.