Dr. Sean Ebert knew exactly what he was getting into when he decided to relocate from Prince George to Vanderhoof 15 years ago.
Ebert and his wife Nicole were looking forward to the challenges of practicing medicine in a rural environment, a place where they could dabble in many aspects of medicine rather than specialize in just one.
"Rural physicians, generally we end up doing a lot more as part of our work," Ebert said. "I take on different roles, I do anesthesia as well as family practice and we all work in emergency and I do a bit of surgery."
Ebert was recognized earlier this month for his efforts, being named rural family doctor of the year by the British Columbia College of Family Physicians of Canada. The award recognizes a focus on traditional, longitudinal and innovative healthcare practices, while still being an integral member of the community and region.
He officially received the honour in Vancouver two weeks ago.
"I don't do really well in the limelight," Ebert said humbly. "I'm very honoured and I felt very privileged, but it's always a little uncomfortable to have that type of recognition."
Ebert is proud of the group of 13 physicians he's part of in Vanderhoof and said it can be both challenging and fulfilling to work with his colleagues to offer a broad spectrum of services to local residents.
"In Vanderhoof we have an [operating room] that runs five days a week, we have 24/7 hour anesthesia and surgery capability, especially for obstetrics," he said. "Most of us have specialized skills in different areas."
In addition to his work in the clinic and hospital, Ebert has also taken on more administrative functions in recent years as a medical director with Northern Health and the chairman of the agency's medical advisory committee. The latter role, he often gets to meet with Northern Health CEO Cathy Ulrich and chairman Charles Jago.
"It's kind of nice have that venue as a rural physician," he said.
Ebert is also involved in the newly created Northern Interior Rural Division of Family Practice, which he thinks will benefit other rural doctors in the region. It represents family doctors in Burns Lake, Fraser Lake, Vanderhoof, Fort St James, Mackenzie, McBride and Valemount.
"Rural physicians have different challenges compared to urban physicians," he said. "When you're rural it's always a little more about access, it's a little bit more about attracting and retaining physicians and other healthcare professions, a little more about Aboriginal work," he said.