“Leave a health care system better off than how you found it”
In addition to emphasizing the valuable role of family practice anesthesia in rural health care, in his over 10 years in Brooks, Dr. van der Linde has become an advocate for the provision of exemplary health care to rural Albertans.
“It’s important for rural Albertans … rural Canadians … to have a voice, to make people aware of the unique challenges we face in rural areas, providing excellent care close to home.”
“That’s what rural health care is about,” says Dr. van der Linde. “We’re part of the system! Patients don’t want to drive to big centres for health care services. We want to focus on providing more services rurally and improving the quality of those services.”
“It’s important to leave a health care system better off than how you found it,” says Dr. van der Linde.
Returning to roots
Asked what he would change about rural health care in Alberta, Dr. van der Linde says, “It hits close to home – the fact that after 19 years we haven’t recruited a Canadian-trained doctor to our town.”
It’s a concern and mandate close to his and his fellow rural physicians’ hearts, the majority of whom have come to practice in Canada from afar; many, in fact, from South Africa, Dr. van der Linde’s home country.
“We need to see doctors born and raised in rural Alberta train as physicians and return to their roots.” Sure, as Dr. van der Linde explains, physicians who are city-raised can become rural physicians, but when you’re from a rural area and you return there to live and work, and often be near family, you have a real connection to the community.”
“You know and love the rural lifestyle … it’s in your blood,” he says. Referring to an impressive 75% return rate for people from rural areas, Dr. van der Linde says, “I’d like to see more people of rural origin attend university, train to become physicians and return to their home communities.”
“It’s frustrating that we struggle to train and retain Canadians for rural medicine. We need more positions allocated for people who come from rural areas.”