What’s up doc?

The Compass - - FRONT PAGE - BY DANIEL MACEACHERN dmaceach­ern@ cb­n­com­pass. ca

A lo­cal doc­tor has been named Fam­ily Physi­cian of the Year for this prov­ince.

New­found­land and Labrador’s new Physi­cian of the Year doesn’t mince words when he talks about health prob­lems his pa­tients face.

Dr. Paul Bon­is­teel of New Har­bour, an­nounced Oct. 26 as the prov­ince’s re­cip­i­ent of the Reg L. Perkin award, said he was tired of “ see­ing all th­ese fat kids wan­der­ing — I should say wad­dling — into the of­fice.”

Bet­ter to pro­vide more ways to com­bat child­hood obe­sity, he fig­ured, and he started up and runs a re­gional soc­cer pro­gram for youth aged four to 12, which re­cently wrapped up its fourth sea­son.

Bon­is­teel said it was an “ ex­cel­lent” feel­ing to win the award.

“ It’s sort of a mix of ex­cite­ment and hu­mil­ity all at the same time,” he said. Bon­is­teel said he felt hum­bled by the recog­ni­tion, be­cause he knows most of the pre­vi­ous award win­ners, for whom he says he has the great­est ad­mi­ra­tion. “ To be added to that list is, re­ally, to me, a very great feel­ing.”

In­volved in com­mu­nity

The awards are given ev­ery year to doc­tors who, ac­cord­ing to a press release from The Col­lege of Fam­ily Physi­cians of Canada, “ demon­strate the rich di­ver­sity of fam­ily medicine.” Those rec­og­nized by the award are not only be­ing hon­oured for their work with pa­tients, but also for col­lab­o­rat­ing with col­leagues and be­ing in­volved in their com­mu­ni­ties.

In Bon­is­teel’s case, that in­cludes not just the soc­cer pro­gram, but his in­volve­ment on an area ele­men­tary school coun­cil and his fre­quent speak­ing en­gage­ments on high schools about health is­sues, in­clud­ing drugs and sex­ual health, as well as be­ing part of a group that keeps An­der­son’s Cove beach clean.

The Col­lege of Fam­ily Physi­cians of Canada also cites Bon­is­teel’s in­volve­ment with their own na­tional board of direc­tors; the doc­tor was a mem­ber of the New­found­land and Labrador chap­ter’s ex­ec­u­tive from 2000 to 2002, in­clud­ing a stint as pres­i­dent from 2001 to 2002.

Dr. Sarah Kredentser, pres­i­dent of the Col­lege of Fam­ily Physi­cians of Canada, says Bon­is­teel is “ a ter­rific guy” who is a de­serv­ing re­cip­i­ent of the award.

‘ Ex­em­pli­fies the best of fam­ily medicine’

“ He was cho­sen be­cause he re­ally ex­em­pli­fies the best of fam­ily medicine. He’s an ex­cel­lent role model for med­i­cal stu­dents in res­i­dence and does in­cor­po­rate teach­ing in his prac­tice and pro­vides a va­ri­ety of ser­vices to pa­tients within his com­mu­nity.”

Kre­den­ster said the most im­por­tant thing about be­ing a doc­tor is the re­la­tion­ship one has with his or her pa­tients.“He truly ex­em­pli­fies all the best fea­tures of a strong pa­tient-doc­tor re­la­tion­ship.”

Bon­is­teel says that, on a na­tional scale, there are a few prob­lems that fam­ily doc­tors have to deal with, pri­mar­ily, he said that there are just not enough fam­ily physi­cians work­ing. “ That’s not just a prob­lem in New­found­land, and ru­ral New­found­land; it’s right across the coun­try,” he said, adding that there are five mil­lion Cana­di­ans without a fam­ily physi­cian. Not only is that num­ber un­ac­cept­ably high, he said, but it in­creases the strain on those doc­tors who do prac­tise fam­ily medicine.

An­other pres­sure on Cana­dian doc­tors is the “ malig­nant growth of pa­per­work,” said Bon-

”He was cho­sen be­cause he re­ally ex­em­pli­fies the best of fam­ily medicine. He’s an ex­cel­lent role model for med­i­cal stu­dents in res­i­dence and does in­cor­po­rate teach­ing in his prac­tice and pro­vides a va­ri­ety of ser­vices to pa­tients within his com­mu­nity.” — DR. SARAH KREDENTSER, PRES­I­DENT OF THE COL­LEGE OF FAM­ILY PHYSI­CIANS OF CANADA

is­teel, who es­ti­mated that 10 years ago, pa­per­work took up about five per cent of a doc­tor’s time, but now it’s closer to 20 or 25 per cent. “ In some ju­ris­dic­tions I’ve ac­tu­ally heard es­ti­mates up to 45 per cent of prac­tice time. So that time ei­ther comes from not see­ing pa­tients or not spending time with your fam­ily,” he said.“You can’t make any ex­tra time. So that’s a huge pres­sure to try to bal­ance that off.”

In­crease in bu­reau­cracy

Bon­is­teel blames an in­crease in bu­reau­cracy, with doc­tors need­ing to sat­isfy the needs of “ pa­tients, ad­min­is­tra­tors, reg- ula­tors, in­sur­ers and the courts,” he said. “ We can­not serve all th­ese mas­ters.”

Bon­is­teel says the way to deal with the pres­sures of prac­tis­ing fam­ily medicine is to be­come more phys­i­cally ac­tive. He also cred­its the staff at the New Har­bour Med­i­cal Clinic as well as his fel­low doc­tors with pro­vid­ing a good sup­port net­work. “ I don’t have to hunt around for some­one if I need help,” he said.

Bon­is­teel was due to re­ceive his award Satur­day past, Oct. 31 in Cal­gary at the col­lege’s an­nual fam­ily medicine fo­rum, along with the win­ners in the other prov­inces.

Dr. Paul Bon­is­teel

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