For Dr. Kevin Wasko, family medicine hadn’t been his ultimate goal when it came to choosing a specialty.
But a single rotation late in medical school managed to change the course of his career.
“I was actually pretty set on the idea that I was going to do obstetrics and gynecology,” Wasko states when asked to explain how he ended up in family medicine. “I did a rotation in family medicine in Swift Current, and it really swayed me – I saw the breadth and scope that physicians can practice in that kind of location.”
It’s a refrain that we hear often from doctors working in rural settings; that their jobs allow them to practice a broad range of medicine, from the everyday to the emergent. And for Wasko, not only was the job engaging, but the location was ideal.
Having done his undergrad at Dalhousie, and studied medicine in Calgary, the Saskatchewan native can now be found working in the community where he grew up: Eastend, Saskatchewan.
“Eastend is a small town of about 500 people,” Wasko said. “The fact that I work in the place I was born and raised is pretty cool. There aren’t that many born-and-bred physicians in Saskatchewan working in their hometowns like that.”
A small town known for its proximity to both the Alberta and Montana borders, as well as a T. Rex named “Scotty”, Eastend is an hour-and-a-half drive from Swift Current, where Wasko lives and practices.
Now an Assistant Clinical Professor with the College of Medicine, Wasko has either a family medicine resident or medical student from the University of Saskatchewan travel with him to Eastend every week. “The time that medical learners spend in Eastend will expose them to what rural medicine really looks like,” says Wasko.
“I moved back for the residency because of the new family medicine program that had been established in Swift Current,” Wasko continues. “The way that you can practice in rural Saskatchewan is pretty unparalleled in terms of scope of practice. I certainly would not have been able to do all the things that I can do if I had stayed in Calgary and set up a family practice there.”
The personal interactions, challenges provided by ever-changing research, and the security of the career are all key reasons why medicine was what Wasko aspired to.
“I like that I work emergency shifts, I deliver babies, and I also have a patient-load as well,” says Wasko. “But being close to family and home was what drew me back.”
This story is Part 3 of a series with SaskDocs profiling College of Medicine grads working in Saskatchewan.