Emma Cronk | Jul 24, 2019
(Editors note: The following was forwarded by Emma Cronk’s mother, Leslie, who lives on the Cronk farm near Parham. It was written in response to media reports about a dearth of primary care physicians in the Town of Perth, but it applies as much to her home communities in Frontenac County. She attended the former Hinchinbrook Public School and Sydenham High School, where she began her basketball career as a Golden Eagle)
Dear Perth Residents,
I am sorry.
My name is Emma Cronk, and I was raised on my parents 2,000-acre ranch in Parham, Ontario and I am currently a family medicine resident physician in Atlanta, Georgia at Emory University.
I tried for two application cycles for medical school in Canada, and even applying broadly in addition to Ontario medical schools, from the East Coast of Memorial University to West Coast of University of British Columbia. After two years filled with rejection letters, I decided to apply internationally at Ross University School of Medicine in the Caribbean. I had come to realize that a lot of Canadian students were following this same path.
I was a NCAA D1 collegiate athlete in undergrad, where I played on a full basketball scholarship while simultaneously completing my BSc in Biology. I also was part of the Center for Performance training camps, where the top athletes in Canada would come together to train on weekends throughout the year in Toronto. Furthermore, I played for Team Ontario and competed at the Canada Summer Games in Regina, Saskatchewan, the second largest sporting event in the world, besides the Olympics. Our team even brought home a gold medal, and we were awarded at Parliament for our efforts and our accomplishments.
Even after my travels with basketball, my end goal was to be a rural primary care physician near my hometown, as I wanted to give back to my community. I understand the hardships that come from living an hour away from the nearest city and the importance of establishing care with a rural physician that has not only provided care to you, but to your entire family. I understand the struggle with transportation to get to appointments, to potentially reschedule, to have options for home visits, and let me tell you: I so desperately wanted to be that doctor for you.
After learning about how seats are saved for international students at our medical schools in Ontario, I was livid. I represented not only our province, but our country on an athletic level. I had competitive grades, I had numerous hours of volunteer work at KGH in the ICU, I balanced a heavy basketball commitment at fifty hours a week in addition to completing a demanding science degree, I have strong leadership capabilities along with time management skills, and was raised on family values with a farm work ethic. I was wanting to graduate and work in rural primary care, where doctors are needed the most. Instead, we take international students, who pay triple the price and who graduate and then go back to their home country. Furthermore, we have saved physician visa jobs for Saudi Arabians, who after they finish their training in Canada, leave to go back home, taking potential spots for Canadian students, and this still leaves us with physician shortages and it is not fixing the underlying problem.
Canadians NEED doctors, and especially in primary care. So here I am, a small-town country girl who struggled to get a loan to attend medical school internationally, while Canada receives payment from international students to study medicine in my own country. Something is wrong here. Something needs to change. In order to facilitate this change, I would encourage every Canadian to petition their MP in regards to this problem.
I am sorry that our healthcare system failed you, Perth. I am sorry that 2,300 residents are now without a primary care physician. I wanted to be that physician. I wanted to be your doctor. I wanted to practice rural medicine. I am a damn good physician and unfortunately, Canada is losing quality doctors every single year to the United States.
I hope that this piece helps open up the much-needed conversation that change needs to happen. I hope that if only one person reading this feels the frustration that I feel, then that change will eventually come. And if anyone sees my mother at the local grocery store or in town, give her a hug, as I know she misses her daughter in Parham.
Written by Emma Cronk, MD
Emory University School of Medicine Family Medicine Resident
Her parents and sisters still reside in Parham, Ontario
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