Trail doctor honoured for his work in rural medicine

Dr. Blair Stanley says he’s optimistic about future of rural health care

Dr. Blair Stanley was awarded a Fellowship of Rural and Remote Medicine from a national medical group earlier this month.

A doctor who worked for decades in the Grreater Trail area has been recognized by his peers.

The Society of Rural Physicians of Canada presented Dr. Blair Stanley with a Fellowship of Rural and Remote Medicine at its recent annual meeting in Halifax.

Stanley, who was born and raised in Trail and lived in Rossland, was cited for his years of expertise in the practice of rural medicine in Canada.

“I feel really flattered and honoured. It’s not something I was necessarily expecting. It was really nice to be validated and recognized in that way,” he told the Rossland News.

Stanley worked as a family physician at clinics in the Trail and Fruitvale area for 25 years.

He says when he first got into medicine, he wanted to be a neurosurgeon, and then he found himself missing home.

“I thought, I really want to go home and practice in Trail,” he says. “Then I found myself in medical school loving everything, every specialty area I was training in, and realized I really wanted to be a jack-of-all-trades.”

He also realized that above all, he loved the relationships rural doctors have with their patients, and says that’s where his strength lies.

“I still love practicing family medicine,” he says. “I love being with people and helping them and supporting them.”

He says rural medicine means doctors work in everything from psychiatry to emergency work to maternity care.

“The medicine is different than it is in more urban-based communities,” he says. “It’s quite remarkable what some of the primary-care docs are doing in our region. It’s quite amazing, the scope of practice they have.”

Rural medicine has become more complex, and the workload on doctors has increased, he says. But even with all the pressure on the health care system, Stanley says he sees improvement in the care that rural folks get from the system.

“When I started out 25 years ago, we did a lot more reactive medicine,” he says. “We kind of waited until people became sick. What I’ve noticed is our medicine has become more pro-active, and preventative.

“I think our patients are living better and longer with diseases that would have resulted in earlier demise when I first started practice.”

He said he remains an optimist about rural medicine, and sees the increasing role of nurse-practitioners as the future of rural medicine in Canada. He’s been a promoter and supporter of such collaborative teams, and used the system in his Trail clinic for years.

“I’m very optimistic about that, because it provides a supportive, holistic approach,” he says. “We’re trying to create these inter-disciplinary ‘homes’ for patients so they can feel looked after and secure in the primary care.”

His work includes planting the seeds for the future of medicine. Working with a group called the Rural Education Action Plan, he’s been helping develop an online mentoring program for rural high school students thinking of going into the health care field.

Stanley recently moved to Vernon from the West Kootenay, though he still has lots of family in the area.

He thanked his wife, and his parents, for their support over the years.

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