No stranger to doctors
Former pro hockey player bound for med school
As a well-travelled hockey player, Upper Island Cove’s Robert Slaney has had his fair share of injuries.
During stints in major junior, professional and provincial senior hockey ranks, he has injured both shoulders, fractured his jaw multiple times and experienced broken orbital bones, along with the many bumps and bruises that come with the rigours of playing a contact sport at a high level.
So, it’s fair to say he knows a thing or two about dealing with the mental and physical strain injuries can place on an athlete.
Recently accepted to attend medical school at Memorial University in St. John’s, Slaney aims to put that knowledge to good use in his future career as a physician.
“A big thing about being a physician is being able to relate to your patients,” he said. “If I can make that connection and show that I’ve dealt with this and I know what they’re going through then that’ll help me even further.”
For Slaney, who is currently finishing a degree at St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish, N.S., med school represents a return to his home province. He will be living in St. John’s while attending school.
That means seeing family and friends on a regular basis.
But, it’s not the only aspect that drew Slaney to Memorial. It is also the reputation that the med school has in the medical world. Slaney is planning to specialize in either rural medicine or the emergency room, but he has a couple of years to decide that.
“Anybody I talk too, including past physicians or current students, the level of education and hands on (experience) they give you is second to none,” said Slaney. “That’s exactly what I want — to be in that situation and to be working with my hands.
“That’s No. 1 for me.”
At each of his stops along this
A big thing about being a physician is being able to relate to your patients.
journey, Slaney has made it a point to get out into the community and help out where he could.
For this work, he was named the recipient of the Godrey Award for student-athlete community service by Canadian Interuniversity Sport.
It is an award that hits home for Slaney. He likens Antigonish to a small town in Newfoundland. The hockey team is the only such team in town and people look up to the players.
That’s why he got involved in the program Fit for Tots and Fit for Kids.
“Physical activity levels of kids and physical fitness levels of kids has decreased over the past few years and I think the promotion of physical fitness is a good way to (reverse) that trend,” said Slaney. “It is a way that I can give back to the kids and try and get them active and hopefully just create some level of enjoyment for them.
“Enjoyment correlates with continued activity. If I can make it a bit exciting for them, hopefully I can keep it up.”
Hockey has been a big part of Slaney’s life since growing up in the Cee Bees Minor Hockey Association as a youngster. He was a farmhand for the Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens, won a Herder Memorial championship with the Cee Bees, and recently participated in the CIS championship tournament in Halifax, where his team lost to Alberta in the quarterfinals.
When Slaney moves to St. John’s, it’s more than likely he won’t have time to play hockey beyond an occasional recreational game. The educational weight of med school does not afford students time to travel to either Clarenville, Grand FallsWindsor or Gander for 24 weekends of the year.
That means the CIS tournament could be the final experi- ence for Slaney playing the game at a high level. Family and friends were planning to be there in the stands to share the moment with him.
“They’ve supported me so much and as this chapter ends and a new (one) begins, I know they’ll be there again,” said Slaney.
Robert Slaney of Upper Island Cove recently completed his two-year stint on the St. Francis Xavier men’s hockey team. He’s now getting ready to study medicine at Memorial University.