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Boosting patient access a priority for the new President of Doctors Nova Scotia

Dr. Tim Holland, of Truro, N.S., was installed as Doctors Nova Scotia’s President during the association’s annual conference on Saturday, June 9, 2018 in Sydney.He may be just five years out of residency, but Dr. Holland is a seasoned expert when it comes to patient needs in Nova Scotia.

“I may have worked in more emergency departments than any other doctor in the province,” he says with a smile. “I worked from Yarmouth to Neil’s Harbour when I was part of the Rural Emergency Locum program.”

Province-wide perspective

That meant working anywhere from one night to one week at emergency departments in communities across the province, covering shifts so physicians could take needed time off.

“One of the toughest parts of working in the emergency department is diagnosing a deadly illness like cancer that could have been caught if the patient had a family doctor,” he recalls.

Seeing what patients were experiencing because of doctor shortages inspired Dr. Holland to advocate for better patient access to family doctors.

“I came to appreciate the difference between people who have a family doctor and those who don’t,” he says. “I’ve seen how much it effects the entire province. People without a family doctor are essentially left out of health care..”

Boosting primary care access

In the role of President, he wants to boost patient access to family doctors. That means Doctors Nova Scotia working with other health care stakeholders to improve the practice environment for doctors in Nova Scotia. Not only will that help recruit more doctors, but it will also help retain the doctors already working in the province.

Dr. Holland graduated from Dalhousie Medical School in 2011 and completed his family medicine residency in 2013. He practices emergency medicine at the Colchester East Hants Health Centre in Truro, family medicine part time at the Sipekne’katik Health Centre in Indian Brook and at the Newcomer Health Clinic (formerly the Transitional Health Clinic for Refugees) in Halifax that he co-founded in 2014.

Health care advocacy

He’s held several leadership roles during his career, including Chief Resident of Dalhousie Family Medicine and Associate-Chief Resident of Dalhousie Family Medicine Halifax-Site.

A member of Doctors Nova Scotia’s Policy and Health Issues Committee (PHIC) since 2014, Dr. Holland became co-chair of the committee in 2016. He was a member of Medical Assistance in Dying (MAID) Working Group in 2015–16 and the Primary Care Policy Working Group in 2016–17. In 2016, he was elected to the association’s Board of Directors and elected as Chair of Ethics of the Canadian Medical Association.

No one left out

His background in advocacy and his experience providing care in multiple settings across the province, will serve Dr. Holland well in the role of President.

“It’s important to me that nobody gets left out of health care, whether they are refugees, first nations people or end-of-life patients seeking Medical Assistance in Dying. I want to improve primary care so that every Nova Scotian has a family doctor.”