If you’re a patient of Seabird Island’s Health Centre, you may notice a new face at the Doctor’s Office.
Dr. Rob Brooks joined Seabird Island in June and will be one of the temporary replacement Doctors at the Health Centre while Dr. Robert Fox furthers his education in addictions medicine at the University of British Columbia.
While Dr. Brook’s education has led him throughout Canada and even down under, he lends most of his decision to become a doctor to his mom.
“I wasn’t one of those people who always thought they’d become a doctor,” explained Dr. Brooks, but that changed when his mother was diagnosed with a terminal illness.
“She got pancreatic cancer when I was in my final year of undergrad. My mom was a public health nurse and I saw her impact on the community. She did a lot of disaster relief and other public health-related things in our community. That factored in a bit to my desire to become a doctor, having experienced my mom pass away just as I was starting medical school. That started leading me towards it. I liked working with people and it seemed like it was a nice mesh of what I saw my mum do with her life and what I’d like to do.”
After finishing undergrad school, his wife was offered a once-in-a-life-time opportunity. One that would see them move half-way around the world.
She was accepted into medical school at Sydney University and rather than being “forever apart”, Dr. Brooks chose to follow his wife to Australia and attended the same medical school so that they could remain together.
Four and a half years later, once medical school was finished, he and his wife moved back to Canada to continue their education.
Dr. Brooks started his residency at a memorial hospital in St. Johns, spending eight months at Goosebay in Labrador where he and each of the other residents in his program were assigned a community.
“While I was there I was assigned to Natuashish, a small Innu community, and about once a month we would fly up there for a week and reside in the community to help run the clinic and the emergency room.”
Having experienced working in small, remote Innu communities, Dr. Brooks is also aware of the unique role of a Doctor in First Nations communities.
“Privacy in a smaller community becomes an important issue,” says Dr. Brooks.
During his residency, he also worked in another Innu community called Sheshatshiu before completing the program and setting up his own family practice with his wife in a small, out-of-the-way town called Grand Falls, Newfoundland which is about 5-hours outside of St. Johns.
But, after he and his wife started a family of their own, they decided another move was in order.
“We decided we needed more help and that it would be nice for our kids. I was very close to my grandma and it would be nice for our kids to know their cousins and grandparents. They’re very involved grandparents.”
Dr. Brooks’ wife was raised in Coquitlam and her parents and family are still there – family that were excited to spend much more time with little Kaleb, 4 years, and Tobin, 4 months.
Having a great connection with grandparents is something the Doctor believes is very important.
So, they closed up their practice and moved to the west coast to begin looking for a place that would fit for their family and that’s what led him to Seabird Island.
Dr. Brooks describes his term at Seabird Island’s Health Centre as being a ‘bridge to a bridge’.
“There’s another physician coming for a longer period of time than myself,” said the Doctor, who will be at the Health Centre for the months of June and July but his stay could be longer. Dr. Fox leaves the Health Centre on June 30 and is planning to return in July of 2017.
While the Health Centre is saddened to see Dr. Fox leave, they look forward to the new knowledge and skills he will bring to the clinic upon his return.