By Miriam Ostermann, Associate Editor
It didn’t take long for United Kingdom family physician Alan Young to grow tired of his country’s restrictive politics, and time spent focusing on targets and paperwork rather than with his patients.
After all, the skills he obtained while studying medicine at the University of Nottingham and working in Yorkshire – where he also worked as a physician for a professional rugby league team on the side – were better put to use one-on-one with members of the community.
So, five-and-a-half years ago, that was the deciding factor for the now 40-year-old to uproot to Canada.
Two weeks ago, Young started his practice at the Valley Medical Clinic – the same clinic where his wife Keely Abercrombie has taken a position, to start in August 2018 following the end of her maternity leave and completion of the remainder of her residency.
“What attracted me to Canada was the opportunity to do more things, to do all those things we’re trained for and not just sit behind a desk dealing with coughs, blood pressure and diabetes, but also being able to vary it: going to nursing homes, going to emergency, dealing with palliative, the whole care,” said Young.
“Strathmore just seemed to tick a lot more boxes than other places and it just felt good straight away. I like the whole care … the whole spectrum of birth through to death. I think the key is how long people stay here, not just the medical physicians in the clinic – which speaks volumes – but people stay here and tend to be here for a long time which is what we want.”
The father of six-month-old daughter Grace, grew up in Portsmouth, in the south of England, where he became interested in the inner working of the human body at the age of 15. With a knack for science, Young enrolled in medicine to help people understand diseases and how to treat them.
Although he started out with an interest in sports medicine, he quickly transitioned into family medicine, although he’s treated many muscular skeletal issues since working in Canada.
When a job opportunity opened up in Drayton Valley, Young didn’t hesitate to apply for the position, asking his relatives in Edmonton to scout out the location. While he had completed an eight-week elective course in Penticton, B.C. in the past, Young was already fond of Canadian medical practices, and being near the Rocky Mountains added to his decision to make the leap. After marrying Abercrombie in 2016 and welcoming their daughter at the end of April 2017, the family decided to look closer to Calgary – Abercrombie’s home city – to settle down.
“It’s nice coming to a community after having done a bunch of locums in a bunch of rural communities because you bring with you what works and doesn’t work, and a huge repertoire of experience of how different clinics do things, and I think it just opens your eyes a little bit (when) coming to a new place,” said Abercrombie. “Part of what we like about rural is having that variety that Alan talked about. It keeps you on your toes, and using your brain a little bit more in different ways.”
Young has joined eight other doctors already at the clinic, and next August Abercrombie will be joining the team to become the third female physician. Although she had to postpone part of her residency in Red Deer when she went on maternity leave, she plans on completing her residency once her leave ends in April.
Young is currently accepting new patients.