There's been some gnashing of teeth this week about the fact that not a single family practice graduate from the 2011 Northern Medical Program was successfully recruited by Northern Health to stay in this region.
Even Charles Jago, UNBC's former president and the current chairman of Northern Health's board of directors, wasn't happy about it.
"The 2011 results reflect the entering class of 2005 and I was very unhappy with the composition of that entering class," he said Monday to his fellow board members at their meeting in Vanderhoof. "Following that we worked very closely with UBC to make sure we were selecting people who were more likely to want to work and live in small communities."
Only two of the 10 family practice grads stayed in this region from the 2012 class.
Perhaps we shouldn't be so hasty in our judgment of those 2011 and 2012 graduates.
While all 10 graduates from 2011 headed elsewhere, some of them did end up working in rural practice elsewhere in the province. All regions of Canada have trouble recruiting rural doctors, so that speaks to the emphasis on rural medicine in the Northern Medical Program.
But we shouldn't see the graduates of the last two years as lost causes never to return.
There are more than a few Prince George residents who have returned after time away, drawn back to Prince George by its people, its affordable housing, its health and education facilities, and so on. One of them, Citizen columnist Megan Kuklis, writes each Monday about what drew her back to Prince George and why this city is so special.
It's too early to say if these graduates are gone from Prince George and Northern B.C., never to return. After some time away, they may find themselves longing to return and set up practice here. They will be richer for their experiences elsewhere and will be able to share those experience not just with their patients but with other doctors.
As someone like Jago would understand from his life in academia, it is frowned upon for academics to do all of their studying in one area. Those who receive their bachelor, master and doctoral degrees all at one institution, even at a large world-class university like UBC or the University of Toronto, is seen as anomalies with limited perspective in their discipline. Anyone pursuing an academic career in post-secondary teaching and research is strongly urged to move around, to learn other perspectives in other settings, to build contacts and relationships in the broader scholarly community.
The same pressure exists in medical school for doctors to get out and see the world before permanently settling down.
But even if none of those 2011 and 2012 graduates who left ever return, Prince George still profits, for these doctors, wherever they are practising, are serving as ambassadors for the Northern Medical Program, UNBC and Prince George.
There's certainly nothing wrong about that.