Why One Young Doctor Chose The County

By Janet Davies

Ask Dr. Negine Nahiddi why she wanted to be a doctor and her answer may surprise you. “It’s a privilege to deliver health care to people,” she says. “It’s a very demanding job but highly rewarding. Honestly I feel privileged to be welcomed into people’s lives, whether at a joyful time, like when they’re getting ready to have a baby, or times when they are suffering. It’s meaningful work. I feel honoured that people let us into their lives, that we get involved in their problems and challenges. Here in The County it’s even more like that. In The County, you really do feel involved.”

While she was studying medicine at Queens University, Negine worked for four months in Prince Edward County through Queens’ integrated clerkship program, working closely with Dr. Cliff Rice, an established family physician in Picton. She already knew The County. “My family has been coming down here from Toronto since I was a teenager, but I didn’t always want to!” she laughs. “I was a kid. I wanted to stay with my friends in the city.” As a medical student she felt differently. “It was wintertime when I came to work with Dr. Rice. And I loved it. That was when my relationship with Prince Edward County changed.”

Together with Dr. Eldjama, Negine took over Dr. Rice’s practice when he retired in April 2017. And yet she had been dead set on working in Toronto. “I did my residency at Mt. Sinai in Toronto, but even then I was drawn back to The County. It felt like a haven, a wonderful getaway.” She appreciated the beauty and laid back lifestyle much more than she had as a 15-year old – no surprises there – but it was the work, the job itself, the prospect of practicing medicine in this community that really attracted her. “There is a fantastic group of physicians here doing family medicine and hospital work in whatever capacity they can. And I was really impressed with their cohesiveness, they work together fantastically, they are supportive and they’re also very welcoming.”

Medical students do two years theory and academic learning in the classroom then two years on hospital rotation. The County was Negine’s first rotation and her first real exposure to the hospital. “I remember one incident in particular,” she says. “They brought in a patient who was very, very sick and who eventually needed a breathing tube. The doctor on call in the ER phoned one of the other doctors and they all sprang into action, they came right away, and the nurses, too. They just worked so well together, I remember thinking, “Wow. This must be a great place to work.”

Dr. Nahiddi recognized the need for new doctors in this community, and a need in herself to be part of a great team, doing meaningful work. “I did my residency in downtown Toronto, at an academic centre, and it was very different to what I had seen in rural medicine. When I came back here to work  another three months with Dr. Rice before he retired, I saw there were several doctors approaching retirement.  Well, I had roots here, and I knew the Health Unit was a wonderful group.” She was also attracted to the scope of family medicine she could practice in a rural community. “It’s quite a bit broader than in the city,” she says. “I am in my clinic a few days a week, in the ER a few days. If I have admitted patients in the hospital I take care of them. If I have a palliative patient nearing death I take care of them.” County doctors also do home visits if patients can’t get to them – it’s just a part of the model of health care in this community and something that is not feasible in urban centres today. She smiles and says, “In our local hospital, where everybody knows each other, you just phone and say I have an admission for you. It doesn’t happen like that in the city.”

The need for family physicians is not unique to The County. Except for a few pockets in some cities, it is a paramount need just about everywhere in Ontario. “When I work in ER we see patients who have migrated from the city who live here now full or part-time, but they have to go back to Toronto to access their family doctor. There are a lot of older people in The County, healthy retirees and those with multiple health issues, we deal with chronic diseases but we get our share of acute care cases, too. This is Prince Edward County! We treat a lot of tourists and visitors, so we see MSK (musculoskeletal) issues, some infectious diseases. It’s pretty diverse.”

The County is much in the news these days, attracting even international visitors with its scenery, history, food and wine, arts and beaches. Dr. Negine Nahiddi was attracted by those things, too. “It’s a great place to live and work,” she says. “It’s a great place to raise a family. but it was definitely the work that attracted me most. For a fresh graduate, or someone who has done family medicine plus a little additional training, perhaps in sports medicine or emergency, it’s a very good place to set up a practice. Because of the breadth of medicine you can practice here, and because the team really is supportive and terrific to work with.”
She works hard, but when she gets time to relax she’ll hang out at Miss Lily’s, or get out with co-workers and the young residents to places like The County Canteen. “We love it there,” she says. “I am meeting a lot more people here – and they’ve got an awesome Trivia Night!”

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Join the Prince Edward Family Health Team!

Prince Edward County is looking for physicians.  Job posting details at TheCounty.ca/docs

Learn more about the The Prince Edward Family Health Team
Contact Debbie Korzeniowski, Executive Director
613-476-0400 ext 208

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