UK Doctor and Family Thriving on Vancouver Island

UK Doctor and Family Thriving on Vancouver Island

August 25, 2016

In the first 10 months after moving to Nanaimo, Dr. Stuart Ockelford participated in three different races in three different sports: running, mountain biking, and obstacle racing. The last one was a Tough Mudder in Whistler: a 20 km obstacle course through mud, water, and up some serious slopes.

“I got bruises on me and muscles were still aching as a result of it,” he admitted happily. “It was a hoot.”

Ready for a Change

After 14 years in a family practice clinic in the small town of Southwell, Nottinghamshire in England, Dr. Ockelford was ready for a change. He said he felt new government-imposed policies had changed the scope and tenor of family practice in the UK: “I was starting to taste a bit of burnout, because of the various pressures that were placed upon us.”

“I love what I do, I love being a GP. I love looking after people, and I didn’t want the last 15 years of my working life going to work resenting my job.” 

He and his wife Julie did a mental trip around the world, thinking of a place which met their criteria: English-speaking, near mountains, on the coast, skiable and one flight away from family and friends in the UK. “That really left us with British Columbia,” Dr. Ockelford said. “I visited Vancouver Island and didn’t want to leave. It was ideal.”

More Control over Practice

They arrived in August 2014. Now working at the Medical Arts Centre, Dr. Ockelford appreciates how he can discuss a patient’s care with them instead of worrying about ticking boxes.

“I can chose how many patients I see in a day and how much time I spend with them, where back at home you just had to get through them all,” he explained.

A former student of aeronautical engineering, Dr. Ockelford switched into medicine because he couldn’t see the satisfaction of simply working with computer models and machines: “I just needed people in my life.” He studied medicine at the University of Bristol and never regretted it.