Homecoming for Stettler doc

When Kim Chapman formally opens her practice on Jan. 16, 2016, it'll mark a homecoming for doctor, who was born and raised near Stettler.

When Kim Chapman formally opens her practice on Jan. 16, 2016, it’ll mark a homecoming for doctor, who was born and raised near Stettler, leaving only to complete her medical studies.

Chapman, 31, will begin taking new patients mid-January at the Heartland Medical Clinic on Main Street, where she will join doctors Elizma Bouwer, Pieter Bouwer, Francois Du Toit, Hassan Lockhat and Phil Vogel.

“I’m just glad to be close to my family and my friends,” Chapman said. “I always wanted to return home.”

Growing up on the family farm southeast of Stettler, Chapman said she never had a burning desire to be a doctor in her early years. That all changed, she explained, after illness struck her extended family.

“I was 15,” she recalled. “I had that experience with illness and loss. It made me want to help people.”

Originally, Chapman’s post-secondary focus was cancer research, but the medical student found that she missed interacting with people, and switched her focus to family medicine.

“Research is important, but I really missed the human part,” Chapman explained, and so she began her general practitioner studies at the University of Alberta. From 2008 until 2012, she worked on her degree, then did her residency at the hospital until 2014. For the first part of 2015, Chapman served as a locum doctor in southern Alberta, filling in for doctors who were away on vacation or had taken medical leave.

While that gave her experience, it didn’t give her a chance to build relationships with her patients, since she never had a steady roster.

“Many people never see their doctor more than once a year,” Chapman said. “There are those who see a doctor regularly, though, and you get to know them very well. And I wanted that.”

When the opportunity to come to Stettler for work as a permanent fixture came up, Chapman leaped at the chance. A new mother to a baby boy, being close to family was very important. Her husband, who works in instrumentation, is taking time off to be a stay-at-home dad, something that suits both him and Chapman.

Rural medicine provides several challenges, Chapman said, the biggest being the breadth of knowledge a doctor here will need to serve the community. As doctors here also do stints on call as emergency department doctors at the hospital, being prepared to handle what emergencies present themselves is a big chunk of what challenges doctors locally must rise to.

“It’s just the scope of what you need to know,” Chapman said.

However, with the new year just days away and a new practice just weeks, Chapman said she’s excited and eager to get started.

“I hope to raise our family here, grow old here,” she said. “This is home.”