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Celebrating Doctors' Day at Nova Scotia Health

May 1 is Doctors' Day, a day to thank physicians for their hard work, dedication, and helping keep Nova Scotians and our communities healthy.

This year, we are highlighting three doctors in different stages of their careers: early career, mid-career, and approaching retirement. These three physicians exemplify the very best of Nova Scotia Health.

Dr. Suzanne Whittemore, Family Physician in Yarmouth

Originally from Toronto, Ontario, Dr. Whittemore was a competitive gymnast from the age of 8 to 16 and participated in ballet. She attended Guleph University to study biomedical sciences and nutrition before attending George Brown College and becoming an Instruction Therapist working with autistic children. In 2019, Dr. Whittemore obtained her doctorate in medicine from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans, Louisiana, and completed her family medicine residency at the University of Pittsburgh where she gained experience in working in emergency medicine and inpatient care.

Growing up, Dr. Whittemore wanted to pursue veterinary medicine, but was drawn to the medical field during her undergraduate degree. Her time working with autistic children solidified that decision.

Dr. Whittemore’s sister was working as a physician in Yarmouth. That was the connection that drew her to the Southwest Nova region in summer 2022.

“I’ve lived in cities my whole life, so I wanted a change experience something different in Nova Scotia. I have always wanted to live on the East Coast,” explained Dr. Whittemore. “I knew in big cities I wouldn’t gain the experience and have the opportunities that are available here, like working in the emergency department and hospitalist work.”

Her favorite part about being doctor is working with different people from all walks of life and helping improve their quality of life.

“I enjoy seeing change you can make when you prescribe a medication for an issue they have been dealing with and see their life change because we finally figured out what was wrong,” said Dr. Whittemore. “It is particular rewarding helping people with mental health disorders get the help they need.”

Although Dr. Whittemore said her personal challenge she is facing is struggling to find a work-life balance, especially after an intensive three years of residency training, she recently started a vegetable garden and hoping her thumb can get a little greener! She also enjoys exploring the coastline, hiking, and going to the beach with her dogs.

Thank you for your dedication and welcome to Nova Scotia, Dr. Whittemore!

Dr. Everett T. Fuller, Emergency Physician at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital

Dr. Everett Fuller was born in Hawaii and lived in Japan and Maryland as a child. He has been working as the staff emergency physician at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital since July 2015. He is currently the Emergency Department Site Lead at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital.

Before joining Nova Scotia Health, Dr. Fuller was an emergency medicine specialist at the Seton Medical Center in Harker Heights, Texas. Prior to this, Dr. Fuller occupied several roles within the United States Army, completing tours in Arghandab Valley, Afghanistan and Jalalabad, Afghanistan as a medical officer. Before attending medical school, Dr. Fuller was a United States Army Infantry Officer based in Schweinfurt, Germany. Dr. Fuller has received numerous military awards for his service in the United States Army.

He completed a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry at the United States Military Academy before completing his Medical Doctorate at the Georgetown University School of Medicine. Dr. Fuller then completed his Residency in Emergency Medicine at the Darnall Army Medical Centre in Fort Hood, Texas. Like Dr. Whittemore, Dr. Fuller also initially wanted to pursue veterinarian medicine. When he began exploring a career in the military, the medical field provided more opportunities.

As a physician based in Sydney, the news of a new medical school at Cape Breton University has been an exciting development for Dr. Fuller and he looks forward to future teaching opportunities.

“I enjoy teaching, having been involved with training combat medics and EM residents in the military and now working with medical students  and residents from both the Family Medicine and integrated Emergency Medicine / Family Medicine residencies here in Nova Scotia,” said Dr. Fuller.

Dr. Fuller said there has been different challenges working in the United States and Nova Scotia. He points to the conflict between the business of medicine with the practice of medicine in the United States compared to the resource challenges and access to services in Cape Breton in addition to the current critical nursing shortages. He shares his journey of relocating from Texas to Cape Breton in a blog post on the website Hippocratic Adventures.

Dr. Fuller has also been involved in physician recruitment activities at Nova Scotia Health to address Emergency Room physician shortages in the Cape Breton area and avoid department closures. He has helped with recruitment outreach and information sessions for physicians from the United States interested in coming to Nova Scotia. He recently attended the American Academy of Emergency Medicine Scientific Assembly in New Orleans to support our physician recruitment team.

Dr. Fuller has two daughters, Amaya and Keira, and lives in Sydney with his fiance Rene, her daughter Brielle, and three dogs - two Rottweilers and a pug. In his spare time, he enjoys cooking and coaching soccer. Dr. Fuller is also playing this summer for Team Canada in the World Medical Football Championships (WMFC) in Vienna, Austria. Last September, he played on the over-45 team that placed 5th at the WMFC in Mar del Plata, Argentina. Five other physicians from the Cape Breton area will be participating in the championship.

Dr. Everett Weagle, Family Medicine Physician in Bridgewater

Hailing from Greenfield, Queen’s County on the South Shore, Dr. Everett Weagle has been a family physician in Bridgewater for over 33 years.

Throughout his education, Dr. Weagle knew that he wanted to work in health care and considered dentistry for a short time before deciding to attend medical school. Dr. Weagle graduated from Dalhousie Medical School in 1988. Following medical school, he completed the residency training equivalency at the time which was a one-year rotating internship where learning time was divided into several training blocks including internal medicine, obstetrics, surgery, pediatrics, and emergency room care.

Following his education and training, Dr. Weagle and his wife (who was also a family physician) did locum work in Halifax for a short time before settling in Bridgewater where he has been a family physician ever since.

“My favorite part of family practice is providing care to entire families and following people through all stages of life, from childhood onward. I have people from multiple generations in my practice,” said Dr. Weagle. “You get to know people really well, especially being part of a small community like Bridgewater.”

The biggest change Dr. Weagle has seen during his time is the change in scopes of practice and family physicians now practicing in specialized areas of medicine, rather than family physicians working across the health care system in multiple areas. Additionally, there has been increase in the complexity of cases seen at his clinic.

“The most difficult thing is the life-work balance and dedicating time for yourself and your family. The nature of the work is very time consuming,” explained Dr. Weagle.

The importance of establishing and maintaining a balance between life and work early in your career is an important piece of advice that he has shared with the many medical students and residents that have trained in his clinic.

As he approaches retirement, Dr. Weagle’s two daughters are completing medical residencies this summer in other provinces. In his spare time, he enjoys hiking, biking, going to local cafes and many other outdoor activities.

Happy Doctor’s Day to Drs. Whittemore, Fuller, Weagle, and all physicians practicing in Nova Scotia and beyond!

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