Kate Niethammer plays with her son. Contributed photo

Doctor drawn back to hometown

Smithers-raised Dr. Neithammer sees returning med students as key to recruitment.

Smithers newest doctor is an old friend.

Doctor Kate Niethammer, who grew up in Smithers, returned to town in June to work as a family doctor after going to medical school in Galway, Ireland and completing residency in the rural Okanagan program in Kelowna.

“There’s a lot of diversity in what a family doctor does in a small community and so Smithers was [my] top choice to live and work,” Neithammer said.

Niethammer was in Ireland for five years before returning to B.C. to do her residency. As a part of her training she worked in Nanaimo, Vanderhoof, Queen Charlotte and Kelowna.

Niethammer was inspired to become a doctor after watching an Australian TV show where doctors were flown to different locations to help the sick and needy.

“I’ve always liked the aspect of helping people and doing stuff for others,” Niethammer said. “As a doctor you get to do that and get to know people and build a relationship.”

Before becoming a doctor Niethammer worked as a tree planter for several years.

The doctor said she enjoyed the monotony of the work and actually met her husband there.

“It was peaceful working,” Niethammer said. “But you also live in a tent in the middle of nowhere for three months and I did not like that aspect as much.”

Niethammer stopped tree planting after she became pregnant with her first child.

On an average day Niethammer said she sees all sorts of patients with different ailments.

“One of the draws to [being in a rural area] to me is the variety,” Niethammer said. “That’s what I like, you don’t know what’s going to walk in the door.”

Neithammer believes the key to attracting more doctors to rural areas is to try to get people from those areas to return to them like she did instead of seeking candidates from cities.

“[Okanagan program] focuses on northern students … to support them to foster a desire to come back to the North,” Niethammer said. “I think that’s really going to be what causes people to come back.”

Niethammer practices at Central Square Medical Clinic.

Just Posted

Bulkley Valley Credit Union named Business of the Year

Awards gala sets new attendance record

Hazelton aces their way to gold at Grade 8 girls volleyball zones

Smithers schools grab silver and bronze at Prince Rupert Middle School tournament

William Griffin arrested in Houston homicide

RCMP have now arrested William Griffin, the man wanted in connection to… Continue reading

B.C. municipality wants ALC to reconsider their decision in regard to pipeline work camp

The ALC had rejected the construction of the Coastal GasLink work camp behind the Vanderhoof airport in October

Family of Terrace man killed in hit-and-run plead for tips, one year later

Cameron Kerr’s family says the driver and passengers tried to cover their tracks

Teen with cancer whose viral video urged Canadians to vote has died, uncle tweets

Maddison Yetman had been looking forward to voting in her first federal election since junior high school

Rowing Canada, UVic investigate celebrated coach for harassment, abuse

Lily Copeland says she felt intimidated and trapped by Williams

Cleanup in the works after tanker truck fire leads to oil spill in B.C.’s Peace region

The province said the majority of the spilled oil likely burned away in the fire.

BC VIEWS: Action needed on healthcare workplace violence

While we’ve been talking about it, the number of B.C. victims has only grown

Closing arguments begin in B.C. case launched in 2009 over private health care

Dr. Day said he illegally opened the Cambie Surgery Centre in 1996 in order to create more operating-room time

MacLean says “Coach’s Corner is no more” following Cherry’s dismissal from Hockey Night

Cherry had singled out new immigrants in for not honouring Canada’s veterans and fallen soldiers

MacKinnon powers Avs to 5-4 OT win over Canucks

Vancouver battled back late to pick up single point

Poole’s Land finale: Tofino’s legendary ‘hippie commune’ being dismantled

Series of land-use fines inspire owner Michael Poole to sell the roughly 20-acre property.

Port Alberni mom takes school district to court over Indigenous smudging, prayer in class

Candice Servatius, who is an evangelical Christian, is suing School District 70

Most Read