Dr. Bret Batchelor, of the Omineca medical clinic, recently completed a year of Enhanced Surgical Skills training at the University of Saskatchewan. This training is essential for doctors to maintain their proficiency and keep up to date with current practices.
The surgical skills training is essential for the St. John Hospital as well. Without it, not enough doctors can be around to work in the operating room, which is one of the extremely few operating rooms to be found in northern B.C.
“It’s actually an incredible privilege in Canada right now to have something like this,” he said. “It’s very unique, there’s only 11 sub-sites in B.C. right now.”
Without the training, the operating room wouldn’t be in operation frequently enough, without operations it would close. If it closed then there would be less doctors in Vanderhoof. So it’s a cycle that, thankfully, is being addressed by sending doctors such as Batchelor to surgical training programs.
“Basically it’s a year-long training program, six months focused on surgery and six months focused on obstetrics and gynecology,” said Dr. Batchelor. “It’s intense surgical training specifically geared towards people that work in rural areas.”
The training program allows Batchelor to perform a number of things he couldn’t before and keeps the room in use. Only a couple local doctors use the operating room a couple times a week, the rest of the time is taken up by doctors traveling from Prince George or elsewhere.
Having maternity services, being able to deliver babies, in a small town is the point of focussing on rural areas. Without the training, there would be no operating room in Vanderhoof, and no possibility of Caesarean sections.
“This will allow it to provide a better service to the community, and Vanderhoof is a good example of that. We have 14 or 15 physicians now and it’s because we have that operating room… it also allows the doctors here to do a larger breadth of practice and to do it safely.”
Dr. Batchelor was born and raised in the South Okanagan and came to Vanderhoof, a place he had never heard of, as a trainee. He has never once considered living anywhere else.