Dr. Robert Forgeron
1. Please introduce yourself (name, age, Canadian undergrad/masters, medical school, graduate year, residency program and year, AOA or ACGME, and state).
My name is Robert Forgeron, I grew up most of my life in Calgary and always had an interest in health care. Firstly as a high school student when I applied to physiotherapy at The University of Alberta. Thank god someone from their admissions department misplaced my application or my life would likely have been dramatically different. I attended The University of Calgary from 1988 to 1992 then graduating with a B.Sc in Cellular Molecular and Microbial Biology and a minor in Psychology. I did not consider medicine until my last year of undergraduate studies and ran a tutoring company for junior high high school and university students for a few years while preparing to apply to medical school. I attended L.E.C.O.M Erie from 1996 to 2000. I completed a residency in Family Medicine at The University of Massachusetts from 2000 to 2003. Fairly early in in my training in family medicine I realized that I was most interested in acute care medicine and wanted to practice either as hospitalist or in the ER. After setting up a unique program at UMass whereby I was able to spend one day a week training in the ER, I then became certain that I wanted to practice Emergency Medicine. The fact that the model for Family Doctors practicing in the ER existed in Canada already allowed me to more readily pursue this career path with confidence. I considered applying to one if the CCFP-EM programs in Canada and spoke to one of the directors of the Calgary program but as I had not rotated through one of the Canadian programs they would not know me personally and my chances of getting in would not be favorable. I then attended The University of Tennessee from 2003 to 2004 graduated with a fellowship in Emergency Medicine.
2. Why FM/EM?
I choose ER due to my interest in acute care and the challenges of being the first physician to see a patient and make a diagnosis. Also I enjoy procedures and that we are afforded the opportunity to practice these skills daily.
3. What is a typical day like in the clinic as a FM/EM physician?
There is not a typical day in the ER and that's part of what attracted me to this field of medicine. You could literally flip through Tintanelli 25 times randomly and that would be your day in the ER. Some days can be extremely challenging as most of my patients may have a high acuity or the patients may have obscure diagnosis.
4. What is your opinion on the recent physician pay cuts in Ontario? And do you see it spreading to other provinces?
As for our reimbursement in Canada, I feel we are compensated fairly and in fact a higher rate on average than my US counterparts. As to whether our fees will be cut time will tell.
5. How did you pick the location to work that you did? What were some of your considerations?
I initially practiced in Lindsay, Ontario in the ER for 3 years as I knew a DO practicing there at the time of my graduation. We then relocated to Red Deer in 2007 where I have practiced until present. Red Deer regional Hospital is a large regional Hospital with a high acuity and volume of patients.
6. Do you find yourself explaining to patients and physician what a DO is? How is it received?
The topic of being a DO has never come up with patients and rarely with other physicians.
7. How do you see the future of primary care in Canada?
Primary care is essential to a well run economically feasible health care system which I feel is understood in Canada.
8. For DO grads debating working in Canada or the USA as a primary care physician, what advice would you give them? How are your colleagues in the US doing?
My colleagues in the US practice in specialty areas and seem to be doing okay but have a more complicated practice with more concerns medico-legally and dealing with insurance company's and delinquent payers. In Canada physicians do seem to see more patients per hour.
9. How was your transition from USDO to coming back to Canada? Did you have any difficulties during your transition? And any advice you can provide for students?
My return to Canada was fairly seamless and since then has become even easier. While in training be sure to take the Canadian Licensing exams at the same time as the American exams as this will speed the process when the time comes to return to practice in Canada. I would like to take this opportunity to encourage anyone who is interested in returning to Canada to do so as the barriers are far less than when I returned to Canada. Once you are in practice in Canada, get involved with the physicians community and I think you will find that practicing in Canada is both intellectually and financially rewarding. I have felt supported by my M.D. colleagues through out my practice.
10. Since 2009, the number of Canadian applicants and matriculates to DO colleges has increased from 66 to 210 and from 13 to 56, respectively. Are you surprised to see the Canadian DO population grow so fast?
Not at all.
Interviewed by Pranay Chander