A Northern Ontario medical specialist who loves the North

Dr. Saara Rawn, Rheumatologist with the Group Health Centre in Sault Ste. Marie

Dr. Saara Rawn, a physician who practises at the Group Health Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, is someone who truly enjoys the Northern Ontario lifestyle and is pleased to be back home.

“I grew up ‘down the line’ from Sault Ste. Marie just outside of Bruce Mines, and I like ‘going to camp’, swimming in clean lakes and having easy access to enjoy the outdoors. I am excited to lay down roots with my family here in the North after being away from home for so long,” Rawn said in a recent interview.

Being away from home included completing the MD / PhD program at the University of Calgary in 2013.  Then there was a three year Internal Medicine residency at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) in Sudbury, followed by Rheumatology training at McMaster University, which was completed in June 2019.

Rawn explained one of the key considerations in her decision to move back to Sault Ste. Marie.

“The community has a great need for additional rheumatology care.  After doing part of my training in the North, I saw this as a challenge that I wanted to take on,” she said.

“People have the same medical problems here as in the bigger cities. As a community practitioner I’m not sub-specialized, so I get to practice rheumatology with a broad scope, using everything I have learned in my training. Also, I have a very short commute, so I’m not spending hours on end in traffic. This gives me more time to help my patients and to enjoy being with my family,” she added.

So while there are benefits to living and working in the North, Rawn was forthright in saying there can also be challenges.

“There are sometimes long wait times to see other specialists, and at times I need to refer my patients to specialists that we don’t have in the North. The Northern Health Travel Grants are a great help, but it can still be very difficult – both physically and financially – for patients to travel to other parts of the province to get the care they need,” she explained.

Back on the positive side of the story Rawn said it was a nice experience to return to Northern Ontario.

“Patients are very appreciative that I have decided to come North to practice. The local medical community and hospital have also been very welcoming,” she said.

She also said she was pleased at the level of community pride in the Sault along with initiatives to “eat local”, and to promote local artists and entertainers.

“I’ve enjoyed swimming with the Polar Bears, skiing at Stokely, the Hiawatha Highlands, and Searchmont, and re-connecting with extended family.  I’m looking forward to having the opportunity to experience more that the North has to offer; such as trying ‘fat biking’, exploring Lake Superior Provincial Park and going to performances at the Algoma Conservatory of Music.”

Rawn also spoke with pride about her residency in Sudbury and said she is hoping more students will make the choice to study, to live and to work in Northern Ontario.

“There is a lot of long-term planning that needs to happen to help provide excellent quality health care in the North. I am hopeful that more NOSM graduates will choose to practice in the North. The school is a great asset to the North, because it gives more people exposure to this area of the province and helps them realize that this is a great place to live and practice medicine. By doing even a portion of their training up here, there is a greater chance a medical trainee will choose to practice up North when they have completed their training.”






Filed in: Briefs, Education, Featured, News

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