Ciad Mìle Fàilte (Gaelic for one hundred thousand welcomes) to two of Cape Breton’s newest family medicine specialists, Dr. Kathryn Binnersley and Dr. Jasmine Waslowski who are set to start practices in Inverness this fall. This was a recruitment steeped slow and steady, over a two-year residency program filled with plenty of memorable experiences in the community and with local physicians.
To attract and train future physicians to practice family medicine in rural communities, Dalhousie University’s Cape Breton Family Medicine Training Program offers medical residents the opportunity to complete their two-year family medicine residency training in locations across Cape Breton, including Inverness. The program is centered in Sydney, but residents can elect to complete their training at participating rural locations and facilities across Cape Breton.
Dalhousie University has worked with Nova Scotia Health to expand the reach of rural residency training because it has been demonstrated that many medical students elect to practice where they train. This innovative program allows medical students to experience different practice opportunities and foster an interest in working in rural areas through hands-on training.
“Inverness has always been a very popular site for our Sydney-based residents to spend one to three months of their training,” said Dr. Stephanie Langley, Cape Breton Site Director of the Family Medicine Residency Program. “In fact, two of our Sydney based graduates, Dr. Susie Egar and Dr. Jean McLachlan, moved to Inverness over a decade ago to set up practice.”
Inverness was an ideal location to expand the two-year resident training.
“Our local family doctors have so much to offer residents, they can fully train family doctors and expose them to the daily realities of family practice. We also know that when doctors receive training in rural settings, they are more likely to choose a rural location for their future practice. This program is a great example of success, and we need more programs like these in rural Nova Scotia!” said Dr. Langley.
In fact, this year’s training cohort has been very successful. Two residents decided early in their residency that they would like to stay in the area and worked closely with Nova Scotia Health’s former Eastern Zone recruiter, Bill O’Brien, to make it happen.
Meet Dr. Kathryn Binnersley
Dr. Binnersley grew up in Ottawa, Ontario. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts in Drama from the University of Toronto. Dr. Binnersley lived in Vancouver for a few years before completing medical school at McMaster University.
With no close connection to Cape Breton, Dr. Binnersley recalls hearing a Rankin Family fiddle tune while doing a square-dance in kindergarten. She learned to play the fiddle and has been a fan of the Rankin Family ever since.
While in medical school, Dr. Binnersley completed elective courses in Cape Breton. One of those electives required Dr. Binnersley to travel to different communities on the Western coast of Cape Breton Island.
Dr. Binnersley decided to enroll in the program because she wanted to practice medicine with flexibility and variety, a mix of family medicine, emergency medicine, and inpatient care.
Dr. Binnersley described her time practicing in Cape Breton as very satisfying, particularly the smaller scale of medicine.
“There are real relationships between practitioners. I know all of our specialists and they know who I am, and I also know all of the doctors at the hospital. We have personal connections,” explained Dr. Binnersley. “I find those relationships very valuable.”
Dr. Binnersley also values the relationship physicians have with the Inverness community.
“There is an appreciation between community members and doctors. The patients are grateful that we’re here, and grateful that they are receiving care,” said Dr. Binnersley.
Dr. Binnersley said the decision to stay in Inverness to practice medicine was an easy one to make.
“I am enjoying the care model and the quality-of-care we are providing to patients.”
In her spare time, Dr. Binnersley still enjoys listening to fiddle music and attending local square dances in Inverness.
Meet Dr. Jasmine Waslowski
Originally from Caledon, Ontario, a rural community located just about 45 minutes north of the Toronto airport, Dr. Waslowski completed her Bachelor of Health Sciences at McMaster University and medical school at the University of Toronto. After graduating in 2020, Dr. Waslowski began her residency training in the Cape Breton Family Medicine Residency Program at the Inverness site.
“When we were exploring residency programs, my partner and I were interested in going somewhere really beautiful and we were seeking a small-town experience,” explained Waslowski.
Growing up in a small town, Dr. Waslowski was always interested in working in rural medicine because of the lifestyle but also for the variety offered with that type of practice environment. In addition to clinic work, Dr. Waslowski provides services to the emergency department and inpatient care.
Dr. Waslowski said that the beauty of Cape Breton helped stoke her interest in Inverness, including so many opportunities to explore the outdoors.
“I enjoy hiking and going to the beach. In the winter, I love to go cross country skiing,” noted Dr. Waslowski.
While she initially planned on staying in Inverness, Dr. Waslowski said that her decision was solidified by the friendly community and the supportive staff at the hospital.
“I am already familiar with the area, so I know I will be supported by colleagues in the early phases of the transition into my practice,” said Waslowski. “As a family doctor in a rural setting, you build a generalized skill set and can work in a variety of settings. You aren’t confined to one setting as much as you might be in an urban community practice environment,” said Waslowski.
Welcome to your upcoming practices in Nova Scotia Dr. Binnersley and Dr. Waslowski. We are so happy you made the choice to enrich our beautiful rural areas and practice opportunities.