The Town of Stettler’s pool of doctors will be increasing by two this summer if all goes according to plan.
A pair of South African doctors, Jaco and Emé Vermeulen, have been hired by the Stettler Medical Clinic and are part-way through the process of being accredited to work in Canada.
The doctors have written two exams thus far; however, before they are able to practise on their own they will need to undergo three months of practical assessments under the supervision of another physician as well.
Jaco will be headed to Slave Lake and Emé will be headed to Brooks, both early in March.
The plan is for the couple to reunite back in Stettler at the end of June and begin seeing patients early in July.
According to Emé the couple already feels at home in Stettler.
‘I can’t explain how welcome we feel here,” said Emé.
“I’m sad to have to leave here again.”
When asked why they chose Stettler to practise in, the couple said that a local doctor who practises here saw that they were in the process of coming to Canada and contacted them about what Stettler had to offer.
“We almost immediately thought this is the type of town we want to live in,” said Emé.
Another draw for the pair was the proximity to the drop-zone in Innisfail as the two are avid sky-divers.
While in South Africa the Vermeulen’s didn’t have a lot of down time due to working and studying, however, once they get settled into Stettler they look forward to making use of the many parks in the region.
“We like outdoorsy things,” said Emé.
The couple arrived in Stettler on Feb. 2, and since their arrival have been introduced to the community through the Stettler Regional Board of Trade.
In order to practise medicine in Canada the doctors must have completed both medical school and post-graduate school, write the two exams, do the practical assessments and finally write another exam in a few years.
Once they establish their presence in the practice, Jaco says he plans to do clinical work and obstetrics while Emé is going to do clinical work and emergency work.
In time, they will assess the needs of the community and possible work towards other specialties.