Boating to work just one of the perks

Kenora’s Dr. Kyle calls himself a “general physician”

Dr. Brad Kyle is from Kenora originally, and returned for the lifestyle and the “Choose Your Own Adventure” work environment.

It wasn’t the first time Dr. Brad Kyle has whipped across Kenora Bay in a motorboat with a visiting physician sitting in the bow, and it likely won’t be his last.

It’s his preferred method of getting to the Lake of the Woods District Hospital in the summer – the two-minute crossing from his house is much faster than driving. There are docks at the hospital for physicians, patients, and even emergency responders taking calls on the numerous waterways around Kenora.

It’s just part of what Kyle loves about practising in a small Northern Ontario town.

“As we were boating in, Dr. (Stephane) Foidart was coming up behind us on his Sea-Doo,” Kyle said. “It was funny watching (the visiting physician’s) reaction because he was sitting there with his iPhone filming everything. It’s definitely a unique way to get to work.”

That’s part of the experience that Kyle wants to impart to physicians thinking of moving to Kenora. Lifestyle is important to him and the fact that the outdoors is right there is a big draw.

“That was the difference I noticed living in Calgary where everyone states that they’re there because of the mountains. But the nearest mountain is still an hour and a half away.”

The three-hour round trip is quite a difference from the three-minute walk to the jetty after clinic.

“There’s no travel time, there are no preparations. I could go fishing at lunch time if I wanted to.”

Kyle, his wife, Kristin, and their three young children take advantage of many of the winter and summer activities including fishing and ice fishing, playing hockey and soccer, dance classes for his daughter, downhill and cross-country skiing, and a unique game he’s played since he was a kid called “wallaby lugging.”

“We put on wetsuits and go to the areas where there is weak ice where the current is, break off big ice floes, and just kind of play around – tag or whatever.”

The quality of work life is very important to Kyle as well, and Kenora provides lots of variety in that respect. He calls himself a “general physician,” because it more accurately describes what he does.

“I definitely prefer the term over ‘family physician’ because family practice is really a small part of what I do. In a city of this size, generalism is very important.

That’s something I highlight (to physicians considering moving here).”

Kyle practises family health, obstetrics, emergency medicine, inpatient care at the hospital, and also chairs the Local Education Group (LEG), among other things.

“The greatest thing about coming to work in an area like this now is that if you are somewhat under serviced, you get to write your own “Choose Your Own Adventure.” You can pick what you like to do because there are so many open doors.”

There are also more supports for physicians in smaller isolated communities than ever before. Kyle mentioned the professional consults they can do with specialists at Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre including the Regional Critical Care Response Program for ICU patients through the Ontario Telemedicine Network.

“It’s a beneficial program both to our Emerg and our ICU.”

Kyle literally grew up with physician recruitment. His father was a radiologist in Kenora and would often host visiting physicians considering moving there to set up a practice. Today, he feels it’s part of his commitment to his patients and the community, ensuring that there is adequate quality health care available.

“It’s multi-faceted why I want to be involved in recruitment. It’s nice to have a hand in helping to select people and helping them to feel welcome.”

One of the issues a family may have is finding a job for the physician’s spouse, Kyle said.

That wasn’t a problem in his case – he and his wife are from Kenora originally, and can trace their respective families back over a century. Ironically, they didn’t really meet until they both lived in Calgary. He was originally working in the IT sector when they moved back. He decided to go into medicine after all and got his medical degree at Aureus University School of Medicine in Aruba before doing his residency at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine.

“The goal was always to come back to Kenora; it was just a matter of what I was doing. Certainly, I like where I’ve landed.”

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