Dr. Rami Abu-Zeidan hopes to provide the same personal care and understanding he witnessed his father receiving when he was young.
“I always had a passion to be a family physician,” says Abu-Zeidan, who started practising in Killam just a few months ago. “From an early age, I would accompany my father to our family doctor and saw how he helped him through his health condition.
“At that point, I saw family medicine [as] much more than just prescribing medications, but as a way to provide care tailored to the patient’s individual circumstances,” Abu-Zeiden continued. “This could only be done after understanding the patient as a whole.”
Originally from Ontario, Abu-Zeidan moved to Alberta to be closer to his sister. Following a year of working with families and children involved with social services, he entered medical school at the University of Alberta, where he also completed his residency.
Despite entering a program that focused more on urban medicine, Abu-Zeidan says his experiences during rural rotations showed him how beneficial it would be to start his career in a smaller community.
“I’m surprised more people aren’t going into rural right after residency, because that’s the best time in your career to harness these skills and further develop them.”
– Dr. Rami Abu-Zeidan
“When you’re in residency, you’re developing new skills and learning about medicine without being specialized but if you don’t practice these skills, you lose them,” he says. He insists that the diversity of rural medicine appealed to him because it allows him to practise a broad range of skills. “I’m surprised more people aren’t going into rural right after residency, because that’s the best time in your career to harness these skills and further develop them.”
When he began the process of looking into where he wanted to start his career, Abu-Zeidan had several communities in mind; however, it was the friendly and encouraging atmosphere of Killam that lead to his final decision.
“I immediately got the welcoming environment that I was looking for and the support that a new grad definitely needs when they’re starting their practice,” says Abu-Zeidan. “I got the sense, when I met with Geri Clark and the [other] doctors working in Killam, that their relationship was strong and respectful. They were open to new ideas and open to supporting one another.”
“I’m so pleased to have had that opportunity to recruit a physician that was trained in Alberta.”
– Geri Clark
From working under the guidance of Dr. Tim Hanton at the Killam Medical Clinic, where Abu-Zeidan was given free clinic space for his practice, to a housing rental covered for the first six months, every effort was made to provide Abu-Zeidan with a smooth transition.
The importance of his arrival is not just because the community was in need of a physician, but also because of his educational background.
“I’m so pleased to have had that opportunity to recruit a physician that was trained in Alberta,” says Clark, who is the site administrator for the Killam Health Centre and has spent 45 years working in the community. “In all my years here, none of [our doctors] have actually come from Alberta, or even Canada, they’ve all been internationally educated.”
Clark says that although some countries have similar systems in place, each one is different, so when an Alberta-educated physician does come, there is less of a learning curve.
“He knows the language; he knows how to respond; he knows the meds; he just knows the system,” she says. “It’s huge, because that’s not the usual way.”
“I’ve found that people are really appreciative of someone coming to Killam to open a practice. It’s nice being recognized; this kind of welcome really is unique to rural communities.”
– Dr. Rami Abu-Zeidan
Having now been in the community for about two months, Abu-Zeidan says he continues to experience time and time again just how receptive the community is, emphasizing the importance of community support in a new physician’s career.
“I’ve been kind of surprised by the welcome that I received,” he says. “I’ve found that people are really appreciative of someone coming to Killam to open a practice. It’s nice being recognized; this kind of welcome really is unique to rural communities.”
“I want to say a big thank you to everybody that’s been supportive. I’m excited to start my career here and I look forward to continuing to work here, providing excellent care for families,” Abu-Zeidan says. “That’s really a goal I hope to continue for as long as I can.”
- Lesley Allan
The Rural Health Beat
The Rural Health Beat is a weekly enewsletter featuring articles about the latest news and innovations from the world of rural health care as well as a curated selection of health news and stories from Alberta and beyond.