What’s up doc?
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