Christmas is a special time for families. Married doctors Fola and Abbie Olajide are not only celebrating their first Christmas in British Columbia with their family, but also new jobs and a supportive community.
“We have been amazed with how welcoming the Fort St. John community has been,” shares Fola. “Not only did our realtor help us buy our home, but she made sure it had food and essentials we’d need when we moved in. The other doctors in town are wonderful – sharing professional knowledge during emergency room shifts, as well as hosting potluck dinners to welcome us into the community.”
Fola and Abbie are family physicians who trained and worked in Nigeria. In December 2013, the couple immigrated to Canada, first landing in Ontario where they had family and friends. The Practice Ready Assessment program made it possible for them to use their skills and training as doctors together in British Columbia.
“Ontario was our soft landing with people we knew, but B.C. is a well-known destination and we were pleased to hear about the Practice Ready Assessment program,” said Abbie.
B.C.’s Practice Ready Assessment program which is a partnership with the Doctors of BC, will assess up to 55 internationally trained family physicians between April 2015 and January 2017, who come from countries that do not have reciprocal agreements with the College of Family Physicians of Canada, such as South Africa, China, India and Nigeria. Successful applicants commit to a three-year return of service in a rural or remote community in British Columbia.
The municipality of Fort St. John and the Northern Health Authority worked with the program’s executive selection committee to sponsor doctors that would be a good fit for the rural community, in advance of Fola and Abbie undergoing a comprehensive formal skills assessment in Vancouver and then completing a further three-month assessment in Valemount.
Abbie shared that in their new general practice, he’s had patients say, “We’ve been waiting for you,” and then shout with excitement when he tells them he is able to accept them into his practice.
“That appreciation by our patients and warmth of the community, along with incredible staff at Northern Health, makes working in Fort St. John very rewarding,” said Abbie.
Visiting with family and friends is a strong part of the Christmas tradition in Nigeria. While the Olajide family won’t be travelling to gather with friends and family this year, they have been warmly welcomed by medical colleagues in the region, and were pleasantly surprised to discover a tight-knit African community in the city.
“We’ve met Africans attending Northern Lights College and the local high school, as well other professionals and two other doctors,” said Fola. “Over Christmas, we’ll have a small get-together with new friends, as well as seeing patients while other doctors have their holidays.”
Despite a drastic change in their daily weather, Fola and Abbie, along with their children who are 13, 11 and three years old, are looking forward to pursing new outdoor hobbies, such as hunting, skiing and hiking.
“Everyone in the family is very happy – our children have a good school and day care, with the opportunity to play soccer, basketball, volleyball and pursue their passion for music in both school and church,” said Fola. “Sometimes even our little girl doesn’t want to leave her day care at the end of the day because she is having so much fun.”
To learn more about the Practice Ready Assessment B.C. program, visit: www.prabc.ca and www2.news.gov.bc.ca/news_releases_2013-2017/2015hlth0065-001289.pdf
Photo :Welcome to the City of Fort St. John Olajide family! Originally from Nigeria, Fola, Abbie and their 3 children moved to BC to practice family medicine. They’re looking forward to celebrating their 1st Christmas in BC with new friends from Northern Health.