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Dr. Ken Murray retires after 50 years of practicing as a revered family physician in Neil’s Harbour

After completing medical school, Dr. Ken Murray originally planned to stay and work in Neil’s Harbour for about two years. Fifty years later this past July he was still practicing at the facility overlooking the Atlantic Ocean near the northeastern tip of the world-famous Cabot Trail. After a dedicated career delivering medical care to one of Nova Scotia’s most rural communities, Dr. Murray is starting this New Year as a retiree.

“When I first came to Neil’s Harbour I wasn’t sure of my long-term plan. I knew I wanted to practice in a rural setting at least for a while. My wife Linda and I got married in 1974 and two years later our first child arrived. From that time on, we pretty much decided that this is where we wanted to live and raise our family.”

Dr. Murray was born in Alberta then raised in Halifax from the age of two. Both of his parents had strong Cape Breton roots and summer vacations were spent in the Mabou and Lake Ainslie areas.  During his college years he spent four summers working at Keltic Lodge in Ingonish.

“One of the attractions of working in a rural setting is that you develop relationships and familiarity with people over a long period of time. In a small community everybody knows everybody. At work every day is different and you never know what awaits,” he said.

Dr. Murray graduated from Dalhousie Medical School in 1972. At the time, the curriculum included a one-year rotating internship where learning time was divided into several training blocks including internal medicine, obstetrics, surgery, pediatrics, and emergency room care.

“It was a very busy and, at times, intense year but most of us felt it was good preparation for a medical career. In 1972 there was very limited training available that was specific to general or family practice,” he explained.

Dr. Murray said a particularly satisfying aspect of his medical career was the opportunity to mentor medical students and young physicians. 

“More than 100 learners passed through Neil’s Harbour during my working time. Teaching is very rewarding and is really a two-way learning opportunity.”

In Dr. Murray’s 50 years of practice, he said there been many changes with the introduction of new technologies.

“New diagnostic tools, new medications, and other new therapies have made medicine much more complex. On top of this, electronic medical records and new information systems require more time and learning. It is no longer possible to work in the same manner that I did in the past,” said Dr. Murray.

Apart from a very satisfying work life, Dr. Murray said there are many other advantages to living in northern Cape Breton, such as the incredible opportunities for hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. Dr. Murray and Linda have raised four children who have all grown up with a love of outdoor activity. Some of their fondest memories are of shared family adventures at home and when travelling.

“The timing is good for retirement as I have three very able colleagues to take over,” said Dr. Murray. "We are also fortunate to now have a nurse practitioner and a family practice nurse added to the team.”

Dr. Murray and his wife Linda are looking forward to retirement and having more time for regular exercise, hobbies, travelling, and reconnecting with old friends. Most years they go to Switzerland to visit their daughter who lives there. They often like to combine this with travel to other locations in Europe. They also have sons in Toronto and Alberta who they hope to see more often.

Congratulations Dr. Murray and thank you for your years of dedication to the health care of Nova Scotians!

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