Oceanside Division of Family Practice Physician Welcome Guide

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Open your practice, and create your new life, in a place where nature will nurture your spirit. In a place where connecting with your neighbour is still more important than connecting to the subway. Where your children can still climb trees and play ball hockey in the street. Where your downtime is enshrined and sacred. And where buying a home is still affordable enough to allow you to breath that fresh sea air.

Discover the value of pricelessness, here on the east coast of stunning Vancouver Island, in the Oceanside region of Parksville and Qualicum Beach, British Columbia.

island magic. The ocean stirs the heart, inspires the imagination and brings eternal joy to the soul. | robertWYLAND


Lifestyle & Amenities.

Raising Your Family.

Affordability & Quality of Life.

Diversity of Practice.

Oceanside Division.

Facts & Figures.

Resources & Tours.

1 2 4 6

Connected to Urban Centres.

10 12 16 18


set your GPS.

Comox Valley



Vancouver Island


Nanaimo Tofino/Ucluelet

British Columbia, Canada

Salt Spring Island


You can have it all, if you like. | stereoPHONICS

Allow your dreams to design your life. The Oceanside district encompasses

Oceanside’s central island location means it benefits

12 friendly communities along a 50-kilometre

from airports and ferries just a half-hour drive

stretch of Vancouver Island’s eastern shoreline,

in either direction. It enjoys one of the lowest crime

from Deep Bay in the north, through the main

rates in the entire province. Residents have chosen

towns of Qualicum Beach and Parksville, to Nanoose

the region for its spectacular nature, safety and

in the south. It also reaches inland to the protected

peace of mind for families, commitment to the slow-

old-growth forest of Cathedral Grove, to Vancouver

food and organic movement, mix of urban and rural

Island’s spelunking capital of Horne Lake, and to

opportunities, and relatively low cost of living.

the iconic town of Coombs. The 1800-metre peak of Mount Arrowsmith is the largest mountain on southern Vancouver Island, which paints a majestic backdrop for the entire region.

The region is experiencing a boom in leadingedge infrastructure

Oceanside possesses an intangible quality that triggers epiphanies and causes visitors to re-evaluate their lives. Many of our residents came for holiday and simply decided they never wanted to leave.

A whopping 2,047 hours of annual sunshine warms

projects and

more than 20 kilometres of golden sand beaches.


Locals and tourists alike stroll along the beachfront

initiatives, and many

promenades to catch stunning sunset views of

hi-tech professionals

Hornby Island. Golf enthusiasts rise to the challenge

have learned that,

of three of British Columbia’s toughest finishing

like you, shifting

holes. The area also offers an enormous range of

their headquarters here can afford them a higher

cultural, artistic, and culinary events each season.

quality of life and greater work–life balance.


lifestyle + amenities.


The cure for anything is salt water: sweat, tears, or the sea. | isakDINESEN

Even the eldest of Oceanside’s residents are famous for maintaining extremely active, healthy, nature-based lifestyles. The landscape offers a unique blend of country and coastal living options. People are supportive and community-minded, local governments are accessible, commutes are tiny, and gridlock is a thing of distant lands. Oceanside is home to one of the highest concentrations of artist and artisan studios in British Columbia, including galleries, theatres, museums, music venues, and more than 140 annual events celebrating creativity in many forms.

Dr. Garth Loughead and his wife, a nurse, shifted to the Oceanside region 25 years ago, where he has been practicing ever since. “We’ve never looked back, never regretted it for a second. We thought this would be a really fun place to move, and that’s how it’s turned out.” The Lougheads spend a great deal of time on their sailboat, which is moored in Nanoose Bay. “Sailing has been a very rewarding part of life here. I always dreamed of owning a boat and living on the ocean, and I finally realized it was a possibility,” says Dr. Loughead. “I have sailed in many places, and I think this is one of the best sailing grounds in the world.” But even in a place called Oceanside, the fun is hardly limited to water sports. “I’m actively involved in a lot of clubs and groups that do fun things,” he says. “I’m an avid mountain biker and am quite involved with one of the local mountain bike clubs. We go out several times a week; we build trails in the winter and we ride them in the summer. There’s skiing, snowshoeing, fishing, golf, hiking, tennis...the sky’s the limit.” “A younger physician moving to this area can’t go wrong,” says Dr. Loughead. “There are wonderful opportunities to develop any type of practice you would want, and whatever interests you have. Opportunities to build practices here and to practice as you wish are unlimited.”

“If you like to sail, if you like to boat, if you like to fish, this is a great place to be. You can go skiing on Saturday, come back, and go mountain biking on Sunday. I do that almost every weekend all winter. ” Dr. Garth Loughead | General Practitioner

raising your family. Let’s travel back to our childhoods together. Remember the joys of spending morning ‘til night playing outside with the kids next door, catching grasshoppers by the creek, and riding your bike to school every day? Your children can experience that kind of safety, fun, and magic too, right here at Oceanside. Oceanside’s tight-knit communities have some of the lowest crime rates in British Columbia. The district offers eight elementary and two secondary schools, Oceanside Montessori, Morning Glory Waldorf School, and two alternative schools. Elementary French immersion is offered from K–7, transitioning to 8–12 at the secondary level. An enormous array of arts, culture, and sports programs are offered throughout the year, and Vancouver Island University delivers postsecondary courses at the Civic and Technology Centre, with its main campus in Nanaimo. OCEANSIDE DIVISION OF FAMILY PRACTICE | PHYSICIAN WELCOME GUIDE | PAGE 4

One of the luckiest things that can happen to you in life is to have a happy childhood. | agathaCHRISTIE

Let’s face it, Canada is an enormous country, and the task of comparing communities can be daunting. Dr. Mark Morris is an expert on the topic: having lived in virtually every region of the country (and even in Bermuda), the decision about where to establish his practice was an easy one. “The island has a nice mild climate, very friendly people, and we had heard good things about the schools,” he says. “I much prefer it to the snowsqualls and blizzard-like conditions of the east coast and the prairies.” Dr. Morris and his wife were primarily looking for a family-friendly place in which to raise their kids. “This is an area where our kids are safe: they can play on the streets, and we know the neighbours. In larger cities, there’s a concern that you don’t want your kids playing outside, or that you have to keep an eye on them 24/7.” Living in nature was a huge draw for the Morris family. “We love that the beach is just a 15-minute walk away,” he says. “We hike, and enjoy the beautiful bike trails...in general, we get lots of physical activity here.” Dr. Morris’ daughter and son, both in elementary school, have explored tae kwon do, ballet, swimming lessons, gymnastics, and soccer. “There’s definitely no limit to great kids’ activities at all,” he says.

“The nice thing about living in a smaller community is there’s no, ‘keeping up with the Joneses’ attitude. We’re not looking at buying fancy cars, or going out to extravagant restaurants and paying crazy amounts of money. It’s a much more down-to-earth type of environment in which to raise your kids.” Dr. Mark Morris | General Practitioner

quality of life. affordability +

Here, you can still buy a home for less than half a million! Check the Vancouver Island Real Estate Board’s market statistics in the Resources section for up-to-date information: vireb.com

We all want to get ahead financially, and to pay off debt quickly to have more freedom to focus on our dreams. With single family home prices averaging 60 per cent less than in Vancouver, it makes so much sense to look closely at your options in Oceanside. Here, you’ll find a wide range of affordable accommodation, whether you dream of living on a larger piece of land in the countryside, or waking up right next to the beach. The Oceanside Division of Family Practice can help you get to know the characters of the many communities here. For example, Parksville thrives with long expanses of sandy beaches. Errington is where the artists and artisans are busy developing their creations. Hilliers offers peaceful, rural properties. And Qualicum Beach is full of character, with its quaint, pedestrianoriented village and shallow, sandy beaches.


On the beach, you can live in bliss. | dennisWILSON

Parksville Mayor Hon. Marc Lefebvre and his wife landed in the Oceanside community 19 years ago, after leaving the extreme cold and humidity of Ottawa to explore the island for warmer pastures. “It was a warm day in June. We went to the beach, the tide was out, and we could see the coastal mountains on one side and Mount Arrowsmith behind us, both covered in snow,” he recalls fondly. “My wife said, ‘Get a real estate agent, we’re home.’” “One of the hallmarks of Parksville is that it’s a caring community filled with generous people,” says the Mayor. “We have a lot of great non-profit organizations that do a tremendous amount of social work. Our Chamber of Commerce members are brave and forward-thinking; they look for ways they can improve their businesses and service to others.” He continues, “We have one of the best beaches in B.C. — it compares favourably with beaches in Hawaii. And if you’re standing in the middle of Parksville, you’re about 20 minutes away from six different golf courses.” He adds that incredible kayak and scuba sites, and nature trails including the UNESCO Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region surround the town. “We are really focusing on attracting high-tech companies, and what we call lifestyle entrepreneurs: businesses that are energy efficient and non-polluting,” he says. “We’re also excited to launch the new 7.2-km walkway from Springwood Park to Coombs Country Market.”

“I see doctors as an economic driver, and I’m willing to work in whichever ways I can to attract more doctors to the area.” Hon. Marc Lefebvre | Mayor of Parksville

urban centres. connected to

Oceanside is one of the island’s easiest places to escape from in any direction. Get your urban fix with several 30-minute flights daily from Qualicum to downtown Vancouver and YVR. Comox and Nanaimo airports — both less than one hour’s drive away — offer opportunities for sunny getaways. Two Vancouver ferries operate from Nanaimo, and Victoria is an enjoyable two-hour journey south. Ferry travel from downtown Victoria to downtown Seattle takes less than three hours. Great Escapes! Central Oceanside to: Nanaimo 0.5h/44km Comox Valley 0.75h/75km Mount Washington Alpine Resort 1h/95km Victoria 2h/155km Salt Spring Island 2h/110km Tofino 2.5h/170km Vancouver 0.5h (float plane) 3.25h/120 km (ferry) Whistler Blackcomb 4h/200 km Seattle, Washington (U.S.) 5.75h/351km Portland, Oregon (U.S.) 8.25h/560km OCEANSIDE DIVISION OF FAMILY PRACTICE | PHYSICIAN WELCOME GUIDE | PAGE 10

Set up a life you don’t need to escape from. | sethGODIN

Dr. Penny Bartlett and her husband, Dr. Peter Haslett, had been practicing GPs for 18 years in Bedfordshire, England, and were ready for a change. “With our U.K. qualifications, B.C. or Alberta would be the easiest places to practice,” explains Dr. Bartlett. Their research led British Columbia to become the more attractive option. They knew they wanted to be on the coast, but were hoping to avoid the high overhead costs of Vancouver. When they found a retiring physician couple in Qualicum Beach, they bought the practice, including its seasoned MOAs. “We love this combination of having the ski hill up at Mount Washington and being on the coast,” she says. Dr. Bartlett also appreciates being allowed to control her workload. “Here, we’re allowed to control our list size. We can provide good care for our patients without getting too tired. Having the time to stop that frenetic running around in ever-decreasing circles — getting the work– life balance back — has been really wonderful.” And when they crave a little more action, escapes to nearby cities for shopping and entertainment are all within short journeys. They’ll zip to Nanaimo for a retail hit, head to Victoria for a lunch date or show, or hop the pond for a fun-filled weekend in Vancouver. “Vancouver is massively accessible,” she says. “We just take the car on the ferry, or the float plane if we’re going for a day trip. It’s all incredibly convenient.”

“It’s very easy to visit the city, but coming back to the peace of the island is just so wonderful. Things are much friendlier here, and you feel more relaxed. You just sort of take your foot off the pedal, metaphorically and literally.” Dr. Penny Bartlett | General Practitioner

diversity of practice.


There is a waterfall in every dream, cool and crystal clear, it falls gently on the sleeper, cleansing the mind and soothing the soul. | virginiaALISON

It’s important to know that you’ll have plenty of work, and plenty of choice, when it comes to designing your practice style.

Dr. Ashraf El Karsh drew the lucky card when he was sent to practice at Oceanside by the province of B.C., in exchange for tuition support at UBC’s Department of Family Practice. “I just fell in love with the area because of how safe and beautiful it is,” he says, having been at UBC to re-qualify

Family doctors who are new to the region will have the opportunity to markedly improve service delivery. You will be welcomed with open arms. Here, you’ll find opportunities to launch your own solo practice, to take over from a retiring physician, to become a partner, or to join a group practice.

for practice in Canada after years working in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Scotland. “I was only supposed to be here for two years, but I loved it so much I had to stay and make it my home.” “It was very welcoming for my three kids,” he says. “Unlike in bigger cities, my children didn’t experience any bullying, or contact with any type of gangs or violence. They were able to focus on their studies and they have all done very well.” Dr. El Karsh is a good example of how the region allows doctors to tailor their practice style. His full-time practice is in Qualicum, and he was

Oceanside Health Centre (OHC) offers both urgent and primary care models. Doctors also have the option to develop their area of interest, or to explore specializations in geriatrics, addictions, dermatology, or palliative medicine.

a pioneering doctor when Island Health opened the Oceanside Health Centre (OHC) urgent care facility in Parksville. “I did not want to just practice family medicine at the office level, without being in contact every single day with specialists, those with a higher level of acuity, or a challenging environment,” he says. As a teacher of UBC medical students and international medical residents, Dr. El Karsh adds that ample opportunities are available for those who wish to teach.

“I did not want to rust in my office, I wanted to be up-to-date with everything. Doctors here can join a higher level of care and feel mentally young all the time.” Dr. Ashraf El Karsh | General Practitioner

oceanside division of family practice.

The Oceanside Division of Family Practice is a not-for-profit professional association that supports community-based physicians and other health care providers. Members work together on special project teams to influence regional health care delivery, to improve patient care, and to boost professional satisfaction. The more active members we have, the more we can achieve, and the greater our impact will be on the overall health care system. Members benefit from professional and social networking events with colleagues, access to specialized health and wellness programs, collaboration regarding practice coverage and the locum pool, support in caring for complex or unattached patients, exciting CME offerings, and news about provincial and regional initiatives. Visit divisionsbc.ca/ oceanside to activate your membership and join a project team today. OCEANSIDE DIVISION OF FAMILY PRACTICE | PHYSICIAN WELCOME GUIDE | PAGE 16

A pair of skis is the ultimate transportation to freedom. | warrenMILLER

South African physician Dr. Kevin Martin was originally recruited to Saskatchewan after graduation. Oceanside’s temperate climate soon enticed him to trade persistent winters for the west coast. He took over a retiring physician’s practice in 2008 and quickly became involved in Division projects to improve the local health system. Dr. Martin and his colleagues have worked closely with Island Health to improve after-hours services, hospice care, end-of-life, and urgent and primary care at the Oceanside Health Centre (OHC). They have launched a vulnerable patient attachment hotline, and are supporting MOAs to develop their own professional network. Together, they identify ways to streamline workflow, to boost efficiency, and ultimately, to increase physician fulfillment and patient capacity. “There are plenty of opportunities for new doctors to get involved in Division projects that will have a tremendous impact,” he says, citing frail senior care, team-based care, First Nation health assessment, mental health, and substance use. “We’re forming stronger ties with other Divisions on Vancouver Island to share resources and intellectual capital, to collaborate on engagement events, and to transfer effective initiatives to other regions. Our physician group is quite innovative and has pioneered a lot of positive changes.” “The older population here provides opportunities to practice complex medicine. In urban environments, specialists often handle these cases and leave us with the boring stuff,” he says. “I’m never bored.”

“That said, it’s a very healthy place to live: most residents are focused on healthy living, and we don’t have many drug problems or lifestyle-associated illnesses.” Dr. Kevin Martin | General Practitioner

Facts and figures courtesy Parksville Chamber of Commerce, Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism, and Oceanside physicians.

facts + figures. 7 12

regional parks

104K $109.3-

million =

value of tourism in 2015 (record breaking year)

provincial parks

including Lasqueti & Jedediah Islands

number of people who attended the 2015 QF Canadian Open Sand Sculpting Competition. The event is a qualifier for the World Championship of Sand Sculpting 25% food & beverage 23.5% accommodation 22.5% retail 15% local transportation 14% entertainment & attractions

The 1200km2 UNESCO Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region is situated within the traditional territories of seven First Nation communities. Vertical elevation = 2100+ metres, making it unique among Canada’s Biospheres. It is one of only two UNESCO Biospheres in British Columbia (with Clayoquot Sound) and one of 13 in Canada. It is bound by five watersheds: Englishman River, Little Qualicum, French Creek, Nanoose Creek, Bonnel Creek. OCEANSIDE DIVISION OF FAMILY PRACTICE | PHYSICIAN WELCOME GUIDE | PAGE 18

In golf, as in life, it is the follow through that makes the difference. | dr.SUESS

67 10

average number of patients treated every day at the Oceanside Health Centre (OHC), which bridges the gap between the GP office and emergency. approximate percentage of OHC patients who need stabilization before shifting to Nanaimo Regional District Hospital for more assessment and possible admission.

It’s been almost two decades with Hon. Mayor Teunis Westbroek at the helm in Qualicum Beach, and his enthusiasm just seems to keep growing. “What I’m most proud of is our community spirit,” he beams. “It’s an older population, but these folks have a vibrant attitude about life. They are extremely healthy and active, and we have literally hundreds of volunteers who run all kinds of clubs, activities, and events.” If you meander along picturesque coastal Highway 19A, you may notice something delightfully missing in Qualicum Beach. There’s not a single fast-food joint in sight, and it’s likely to stay that way. “We survey our residents regularly, and they almost unanimously agree that those types of places would likely be more welcome elsewhere,” he smiles. “We’re environmentally conscious, and we’ve really embraced the slow-food movement. In fact, our restaurants take real pride in sourcing local ingredients whenever possible.” Once primarily a retirement community, Qualicum Beach is quickly becoming a hub for the digital arts. “We transformed a century-old heritage railroad station into the Digital Media Studio, with meeting rooms, private offices, drop-in spots, co-working spaces, and lighteningfast internet access,” he says. The re-purposed rail hub is ensuring media professionals can keep their careers on the right track. “The mobile workforce can hot-desk, network with industry leaders, and maintain great careers while living in a peaceful part of the world. It’s clean industry and is drawing a lot of startups and young families to the area.”

“We’re proving that a rural community can thrive as a creative marketplace.” Hon. Teunis Westbroek Mayor, Qualicum Beach

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever. | jacquesCOUSTEAU


professional support. Oceanside physicians have access to tremendous professional and financial resources, including settlement and ongoing career support. The Division also collaborates with the Mount Arrowsmith Medical Society for CME and call schedules that prioritize work–life balance. Oceanside physicians may be eligible for additional remuneration in accordance with the Rural Subsidiary Agreement (RSA) including: recruitment incentive, fee premium, annual flat fee and rural CME allowance. For details, visit: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/practitioner-professional-resources/ physician-compensation/rural-practice-programs/rural-retention-program

book your tour. The Division organizes regional, networking, and facility tours for physicians considering the area for their new home and practice. We’ll work with you in advance of your trip

get the details. The Oceanside Physician Welcome Package contains a wealth of information for physicians to get their bearings and to make Oceanside home. This comprehensive directory connects you to essential settlement, health, recreational, and cultural resources. Download your Welcome Package: divisionsbc.ca/CMSMedia/Divisions/DivisionCatalogoceanside/PDFs/OrientationPackage-Oceanside%20V2.pdf

we are oceanside. PUBLISHED SEPTEMBER 2016

to customize a tour that meets your needs.


Contact us: oceansideadmin@divisionsbc.ca