In honour of Father’s Day on June 20, we pay tribute to all dads especially those who also contribute to the health-care scene across rural Alberta.
One such father is Dr. Clayne Steed, who raised six children in Raymond, 36 km southeast of Lethbridge. Dr. Steed practised in the community for 37 years and continues to be a strong supporter of rural health care in his position as an Alberta Health Services associate zone medical director in the South Zone. He also served as the board chair for RhPAP for several years when it was still named the Rural Physician Action Plan.
Over the course of his career, Dr. Steed has seen a shift from a system where “the physician did pretty much everything” to today’s health-care home concept, where a patient can access a variety of health professionals to meet their individual needs.
“Teams have grown [and] now can include everybody from a nurse [to] a pharmacist, a mental health worker, [and] a variety of other health professionals that become part of the team. You want to have the right person, with the right skills, in the right place, at the right time,” Dr. Steed said during a recent interview. “And ultimately, that’s a good thing.”
In this issue, we share the stories of three of his children who followed Dr. Steed’s lead to join a health-care team of their own, with a son becoming a doctor, a daughter training as a licensed practical nurse, and his youngest choosing to become a dietitian.
So, to all the health-care dads like Dr. Steed out there who are keeping rural Albertans healthy and having an influence on the next generation, we say “Happy Father’s Day and thank you.”
Son balances medical career with family
Having watched his father manage a successful medical practice while balancing it with family and home life, Dr. Regan Steed knew there was an opportunity for him to do the same.
From a young age, Regan wanted to follow in Dr. Clayne Steed’s footsteps as a physician who helped people and forged his own path while so doing.
Following an initial attempt at admission to medical school, Regan decided to pursue a master’s degree in health-care administration in Nova Scotia. Upon completion of that degree, Regan was on the fence about whether to look for a job or return to pursuing his first love, medicine.
His dad encouraged him to give medical school another try.
“I don’t think there was an expectation [for me to be a doctor],” recalled Regan recently, after wrapping up his day at the Raymond Medical Clinic.
“[We had] a home environment where we would be supported in any path we chose.”
After completing his medical degree at the University of Calgary followed by his residency training in Rural Alberta South (RAS) Rural Residency Program in Lethbridge, Regan joined his father and several other physicians at the Raymond clinic 10 years ago.
Stepping into the role of rural family doctor with his father just down the hall wasn’t intimidating, but Regan knew he had big shoes to fill.
“I came into the environment where I could be my own self without living under his shadow… it always felt very positive,” he said of the four years the father and son worked together at the same clinic.
“It was probably the confidence he helped me develop earlier.”
[Dad] was very proud of the career he had, and he worked very hard, but he was still able to do things in life, be a good father, be a good husband, develop hobbies, and [do] other things.
-Dr. Regan Steed, family physician
Regan said he’s adopted his father’s approach to maintain clinical humility. Asking for and accepting advice from colleagues or requesting further testing is key to delivering the best care to patients.
He also learned some obstetric tips from his dad who delivered close to 1,000 babies while he was practising in Raymond.
“There can be some stress and sometimes quick action is needed [in obstetrics,] but at the same time he always [maintained his] patient nature,” said Regan. “Sometimes doing less is the best thing to do for the [mother].”
Regan’s father also demonstrated how it’s important to maintain a quality family life even with long hours and unpredictable cases.
“Looking at my dad as a kid growing up, I guess he made significant efforts to be around … I knew growing up and from spending a few years working with him that he was devoted to his patients, and he made himself available to look after the people that he was responsible for,” said Regan, the third oldest of the Steed siblings and the father of five children himself.
“[Dad] was very proud of the career he had, and he worked very hard, but he was still able to do things in life, be a good father, be a good husband, develop hobbies, and [do] other things.”
Daughter graduates from dad’s alma mater
Brooke Clelland knows her father was extremely proud of all his children as they reached their milestones.
For Dr. Clayne Steed, having his youngest daughter graduate from the University of Alberta in 2007 was particularly special, since he completed his own medicine degree there in 1975.
“I know that was a connection that just kind of just seized him,” recalled Brooke, who now works as a registered dietitian in the Hemodialysis Unit at the Royal Alexandra Hospital in Edmonton.
It was her parents who first suggested she consider being a dietitian after she contemplated an accounting career.
“My dad told me, ‘you won’t like that, it will be boring. You need a job where you’ll be talking to people more,’” recalled Brooke with a laugh, but she insists it was offered as an option rather than an expectation.
“I actually didn’t even know what a dietitian did,” she added, noting her dad predicted nutrition would become a growing field as more emphasis was placed on preventative health care.
Having a general interest in hearing about the body, how it works, and how much the medical field is able to do when things aren’t working right [was] always very interesting to me.
-Brooke Clelland, dietitian
Clelland acknowledges that exposure to her dad’s profession growing up likely piqued her interest in the health-care field.
“When you’re a kid a lot happens indirectly, right? [Whether] in the clinic after hours or getting a wheelchair ride around or something like that,” said the mom of three children who now lives in Edmonton with her husband Brett, a lawyer with Alberta Health Services.
“It wasn’t like my dad talked a lot about his job, because obviously there’s … pretty big limitations as far as patient confidentiality… [but] having a general interest in hearing about the body, how it works, and how much the medical field is able to do when things aren’t working right [was] always very interesting to me.”
Although Brooke and her dad pursued different health-care careers, there are still times his professional advice comes in handy.
“When there [are] new medications [affecting nutrition] that come up, I’ll be curious to hear what he has to say about them, [because] I know he would know more.”
Nurse’s care and kindness comes from father
As hard as it is to see people she knows suffering, Lindsay Baldry finds fulfillment in knowing she can offer a sense of calm during trying situations.
It’s a trait that the licensed practical nurse believes she inherited from her father, Dr. Clayne Steed.
“I have found that I have … a deeper empathy for people, and I want to be kind,” said Lindsay, who has worked at the Raymond Health Centre since 2008, alongside her dad for a period of time before he retired.
Her father was an influential force in her career choice, not because he insisted she follow any particular career path, but rather through the importance he placed on education, a long-standing priority in the Steed family.
“I was always proud of the way [my father] did his job and what he did,” she said.
“I kind of thought that I would be able to take the same pride if I was in health care as well.”
Her dad’s motto was “to treat everyone with equal respect, sympathy, and concern.” She continues to embrace that philosophy as her own today.
“I would say that was some good advice.”
I was always proud of the way [my father] did his job and what he did. I kind of thought that I would be able to take the same pride if I was in health care as well.
-Lindsay Baldry, licensed practical nurse
While her father often worked long and irregular hours as Lindsay was growing up, it was all she had ever experienced as a child. “It didn’t seem so crazy, and his hobbies were kind of family hobbies. The [things] that he liked to do w[ere] … tak[ing] the boat out, waterski[ing] together, or do[ing] yard work as a family. His hobbies were kind of stuff that we all did as a family.
“So, when he was home, we were together.”