Dr. Edward Marquis of Prince George has been awarded the 2022 rural Long Service Award which is given to physicians who’ve served rural communities for over 20 years.
For the last 23 years, Marquis has had a family practice in Prince George.
The Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC), the organization that presents the award, classifies Prince George as rural relative to the Lower Mainland.
“I think of recognition, as a ‘Thanks’ for doing what you do. It is important for all of us to hear once in a while,” said Marquis.
“It is also not the reason we do what we do. A ‘Long Service Award’ like this, given by a respected group of peers at the SRPC is an honour.”
Marquis, who is originally from Cranbrook, started practicing in the north in 1992 after doing locums (temporary placements) in Nelson, Valemount, the Hazeltons, and Terrace before he eventually settled in Mackenzie as the community was in desperate need for fulltime coverage.
In 1998, he left Mackenzie for Prince George.
“This was a logical family transition as I was able to continue to practice in classic rural style (meaning seeing patients in the office, covering the emergency room, teaching students, and seeing patients in the hospital and the office), and still support my more rural colleagues as the primary referral center for our surrounding communities,” said Marquis.
Marquis said he was attracted to rural medicine because he’s always been fond of the small-town doctor construct where you get to know patients through the generations – including delivering some of his patients’ grandchildren.
“The challenge of clinical responsibility in a low resource environment was exciting as a young physician. I wanted to practice in an area of need in our province. I wanted to connect with community. I wanted to test all the skills I had learned in medical school, and add new ones. I wanted to explore the north!”
Marquis said one of the constants in his career so far has been change. He says medicine has seen changes in everything from communication technologies to new pharmaceuticals, chronic disease management, and advanced cancer treatments.
“Aging is such an interesting process, and we have the privilege of doing this alongside our patients in family medicine. Helping our cohort throughout this journey is truly special.”
He’s also found a passion for medical leadership and sat at local and provincial tables and become involved in attempts at system improvement since the mid-90’s.
He has been a member of the SRPC since 1995 and is a past recipient of the Rural Service Award (2016) and the Fellowship of Rural and Remote Medicine of the SRPC (FRRMS) 2018.
“Our communities’ evolution has allowed my children to attend secondary education at CNC and UNBC, and several of my own medical students have gone on to provide rural medicine and medical leadership at a level that one individual could never do alone,” said Marquis.
“We all work and play in this boreal forest on our host Lheidli T’enneh territories.”
Many rural and remote regions across Canada are underserved and struggle to recruit and retain physicians and one of the purposes of the service award is to celebrate the commitment of rural physicians.
“Recruitment and retention is a wicked problem in medicine right now. I do wish it were solely a rural issue, but I have never seen a situation like this in Family Medicine, in the past 30 years,” said Marquis.
“The trouble does impact the small rural communities critically, as the loss of a single provider can often destabilize a previously effective but small health care team.”
He says the health care system was struggling to keep up prior to COVID, and by now faces an exhausted crew, a backlog deferred health issues, and no option to pause and catch-up.
“Despite our challenges at a systems level, there has never been a more opportune time to explore your rural medical envelope,” said Marquis about encouraging new physicians to take up rural medicine.
“As a new graduate, the rural communities in our province are such a fun and rewarding environment to practice your profession, the close connection to environment, community and colleagues is lifelong.”