Amherst, N.S., doctor announces retirement from family practice due to health reasons
For 38 years, a doctor in Amherst, N.S., has been touching the lives of many people through his family medicine practice, which he calls a “privilege.”
“I don’t have a right to care for you. No, you bestowed privilege upon me. And that’s the way I was drilled in medicine,” said Dr. Brian Ferguson who announced his retirement on Sunday.
“We were drilled not to ever betray that privilege,” he said.
Ferguson announced the reason for his retirement through a long Facebook post, where he also thanked his patients and family.
“The unfortunate and potentially lethal inflammation (Sarcoidosis) of my heart has forced me to reflect on my future over the past one to two years,” Ferguson wrote.
He said Sarcoidosis is a rare condition that can cause heart failure.
“You’ve got to count your blessings and say OK, realistically can I keep this same pace that I’ve done for 38 years? the answer is obviously no. I would never advise anybody else to work these crazy hours so it’s that was where the decision happened to come out,” Ferguson said.
Struggling with doctor shortages
It was a difficult decision to make, Ferguson said, as he thought about the 3,000 patients he had.
“We’ve gone through lots of doctor shortages, and therefore your practices become large,” said Ferguson, who only made the decision after finding out that there were three doctors coming to the area in the next four months.
“If those doctors weren’t coming, would I retire? Probably not. And because how do you live in a community and leave that many people without a doctor?” he said.
The three doctors will be taking some of his patients once Ferguson officially retires on August 17.
‘Emergency is my first love’
After his retirement, Ferguson, who also worked at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre, wishes to continue with inpatient and emergency coverage at the CRHCC.
“I’ll probably end up doing more shifts now in emergency, which is really my first love. I had the pleasure of setting up a level 2 emergency here 27 years ago, so my first love is obviously in emergency,” he said.
“I know it sounds crazy but I love it. You have people in acute care and you don’t just take care of their illness, you also help take care of their anxieties. And having lived through a life-threatening situation myself it just made me stronger making sure that these people are well taken care of.”
Ferguson was also the director of the emergency department at CRHCC when it reopened in 2003.
He was also named Rural Physician of the Year by Doctors Nova Scotia.
Finding a connection with patience
Ferguson said he’s going to miss interacting with patients the most.
“I’m a Cape Bretoner and I truly enjoy the social side. You come into my office and I’m not just go and check your blood pressure or check your thyroid, I’m going to ask you what you do and how everything is going,” he said. “There’s a lot of stuff that I know of patients and fill in the chart.”
He also hopes that the next generation of doctors “truly educate patients.”
“I think that’s what’s missing in medicine, it’s not just me telling you what you have. It’s me taking the time to address what fears you have about medicine and about your condition,” said Ferguson.
“And if we don’t do that, I think sometimes iPads and cellphones get in the way of doctors actually embracing the patient as a human being, so you know, nowadays you can get an app for anything.”
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