Dr. Kimberley Chang is recipient of the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada 2022 Resident Leadership Award. (Submitted photo)

Dr. Kimberley Chang is recipient of the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada 2022 Resident Leadership Award. (Submitted photo)

Medical resident in Nanaimo wins national leadership award

Dr. Kimberley Chang recipient of Society of Rural Physicians of Canada Resident Leadership Award

A resident doctor based in Nanaimo has been recognized with a leadership award.

Dr. Kimberley Chang is recipient of the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada Resident Leadership Award based on her hard work, diligence and work as a resident doctor, performing well in different clinical settings she has encountered, noted a press release. Chang “is rurally oriented in her thought processes and … is cognizant of our limited resources,” the press release said.

Chang is training in family medicine in Nanaimo as part of the Nanaimo Family Medicine Residency Program and said she is honoured to be recognized for her work. She has also trained in Vanderhoof and is interested in practising in a rural setting.

One of the projects she has focused on, based in northern B.C. but supported by the Nanaimo residency program, delves into penicillin allergies.

“The physicians in Vanderhoof identified the need, and I have developed, and am leading, a project to assess the feasibility of testing whether people are truly allergic to penicillin, and doing it in their home community,” said Chang. “This is important because many people who have documented ‘penicillin allergies’ are actually not allergic, and this limits the treatment options we have for them.”

Chang said everyone deserves care closer to home, which is an issue in communities like Nanaimo where people often have to travel to Victoria for care. Differences exist between medicine practised in urban and rural settings, the doctor said.

“I think the scope of what you need to be able to do in a rural centre is much larger in that you don’t have specialists or other allied health-care providers as easily available and so you have to be able to manage more yourself,” said Chang. “And that’s something I think the training in Nanaimo really prepares you well for. There are doctors here who are excited to help you learn how to do more independently.”

The lack of family physicians, said Chang, is a “really complex issue,” and part of the challenge is that improvements in primary care and access to family doctors is something that pays off in the long-term. There are some immediate benefits, but the biggest benefits are seen over decades, and it’s hard to make changes when they require a significant up-front investment in time, commitment, finances, and energy, she said.

“I think one of the [things] that really draws me to rural medicine is it’s somewhere that feels a lot more feasible than in the city to have that kind of longitudinal practice where you are taking care of people as their most responsible physician in the community,” Chang said.

She will graduate in June and will be licensed to practise independently. Her plan is to work in smaller communities than Nanaimo, but will continue to do some intermittent work in the Harbour City in the short-term.

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