The picture with this story shows Dr.Marco Terwiel alongside of an Inukshuk near the Arctic Circle. . The Unukshuk is the symbol of the 2010 Winter Olympics. Dr. Terwiel is not an Olympic athlete. He is an Olympic achiever in the medical profession. Where most Canadian doctors have a practice of about 1500 patients. His practice numbers about 8000 Inuit living near the Arctic Circle. . . Now 70 years of age, looking more like 45, he retired from his general practice in Maple Ridge, British Columbia five years ago. Always active, he answered the call of the University of Manitoba Northern Medicine Unit to take on the challenging position of General Practitioner to the Inuit community in Rankin Inlet.
He travels there twice each year for one month visiting settlements. The remainder of the year he consults with northern nurse practitioners by telephone from his home. The day we met in his home he spent two hours on the telephone diagnosing a patient in Rankin Inlet, then arranging for the patient to be flown to Churchill and arranging with the hospital in Winnipeg to prepare for the patient should the hospital in Churchill deem more extensive treatment necessary? Hearing him work and watching it unfold was more gripping than any television episode of ER.
To say there is a drastic shortage of doctors is an understatement. Attracting doctors to northern and remote communities is almost impossible. I asked him why. “Dick,” he replied “the complexity of providing equitable healthcare to all Canadians, free of charge, for medically needed care is virtually an impossible task. The human and physical resources required to look after an ageing population in a timely and effective manner in a vast, sparsely populated country will consume too large a share of our GDP at the expense of many other essential services.”
His advice to students entering medical school “We have two ears, and two eyes and only one mouth. Therefore a good doctor will use his/her ears and eyes four times as much as his/her mouth”
Solid advice from Dr. Marco Terwiel. Another Canadian Achiever.