Dr. Godwin Ameh works at the Wrinch Memorial Hospital in Hazelton.

Dr. Godwin Ameh works at the Wrinch Memorial Hospital in Hazelton.

Provincial program brings international doctor to Hazelton

Nigerian Dr. Godwin Ameh and Hazelton benefit from a new provincial international doctor program.

When Nigerian Dr. Godwin Ameh first landed as a permanent resident in Toronto, he started from the bottom.

Now he’s here. The doctor moved permanently to Hazelton two weeks ago and finally could work in his field again, after spending his first two years in Toronto and Estevan, Sask. working unrelated jobs due to certification issues.

“For two years I was in Saskatchewan, I saw people who carried the same kind of certificate I was carrying, some were practising, some were not practising,” Dr. Ameh said. “But something inside me told me it’s a matter of time, you just need to stay focused.”

Dr. Ameh found the Practice Ready Assessment pilot program and he quickly got his application going. The program allows internationally certified doctors to fast-track their way into medical practice in British Columbia by skipping a few additional hoops required to practise nationwide.

“Fortunately, I was picked as one of the pilot candidates,” Dr. Ameh said.

This meant Dr. Ameh had to go through three stages of tests of his medical knowledge. He passed the tests and spent some time in Quesnel for his clinical assessment, then finally came to Hazelton to work as a general practitioner. For a doctor who had experience in surgery, he started from the bottom again in essence.

“It’s painstaking, you are excited that you are able to get ahead and start in your profession, but at the same time, it’s humbling,” Dr. Ameh said.

“When I was in Quesnel, I was working with an assessment licence, and what that meant was that I couldn’t sign a prescription, I couldn’t sign lab requisitions, I couldn’t give any standing orders.”

“But I had to go through it, because the end justifies the means. And practicing in Canada is a big deal.”

Eventually, Dr. Ameh had a choice between three locales to serve in – Castlegar, Hazelton and McBride.

“In all honestly, the interview panel of Hazelton came across to me as more serious, they came across to me as more organized,” Dr. Ameh said.

Dr. Ameh said the panel that interviewed him kept in close contact with him, and at the end of the interview, flew him over from Saskatchewan for a four-day tour of Hazelton.

“It showed a lot of commitment and seriousness, and in my mind I said, ‘this is the kind of place I would like to work for a start,’” Dr. Ameh said.

Currently, Dr. Ameh has no privileges for advanced medical work, but he hopes to attain them once he settles in.

“I will want to perhaps get some training in anaesthesiology, because there’s a need for an anaesthetist,” Dr. Ameh said.

He hopes to succeed the current anaesthetist when he retires.

“If I get privileges for obstetrics, I would like to stay here and develop the obstetrics units.”