Dr. Karen Bodemer has recently joined the Galloway Health Centre in Oxbow, and she said that she is there to stay now. Her arrival brought the total number of physicians in Oxbow to three.
Bodemer is originally from Pretoria, South Africa, where she’s been working as a doctor for 21 years. She moved to Oxbow in August 2017, following her husband Dr. David Hyman, and 2 1/2 years later she started working at the health centre after attaining her licence here. However, some patients may have met her even before she started practising, as she often shadowed Hyman while preparing for her qualifying exams with the goal of working as a family physician in Canada.
“I was shadowing him for the whole time I was here. I did go out in the evenings when he went out just to learn medicine. And actually I met many of the patients before they were patients to me, so it helped a lot,” said Bodemer.
Bodemer recently graduated the Saskatchewan International Physicians Practice Assessment (SIPPA) Program alongside Dr. Navjot Pannu and Dr. Nihar Desai, who started their practice in Estevan of Feb. 1. SIPPA is the program offered in Saskatchewan to provide competency assessment of international physicians prior to licensing in Saskatchewan.
“I’m glad I’m through the process, it was a little bit boring being at home,” said Bodemer.
To graduate the program she had to do some written and practical exams in Saskatoon. Then Bodemer also had to do a period of clinical field assessment in Unity. She noted that the process went relatively fast, and she guesses there was a reason for that.
“Actually it’s quite quick, I think it’s the quickest of everybody. I was very fortunate that they could accommodate me that quickly. It usually takes quite long, but they knew that I was here to stay because I’m married to Doctor Hyman and he’s been working here for 22 years. I won’t be leaving.”
Bodemer wrote her final exam in June, and unlike others who sometimes have to wait a year or two, already in September, she received her clinical field assessment position. And as she finished that part, she received her licence.
She started working in Oxbow on Feb. 3, and so far everything has been good.
“The patients are very kind, especially ladies,” said Bodemer, noting that she felt that some female patients have been missing a female doctor there for a long time.
With a constant lack of physicians in the area, Bodemer believes there will be a decent amount of work for her, but with the three full-time physicians, Galloway Health Centre patients can now actually see a doctor on the same day as they get sick.
However, the Oxbow community could have been waiting for a new physician for much longer if not for the accurate Cupid who seems like he's been keeping an eye on two doctors since the beginning of their careers.
Bodemer and Hyman were in the same class in medical school and graduated from the university in Pretoria in 1996. Not only have the two now-Oxbow doctors known each other for a long time, but they also used to date when they were students. But as it often happens, something didn't work out at the first try.
“I knew him as a fellow student when we were studying. It was between 1991 and 1996,” said Bodemer. “But then I got married to someone else at the end of my studies. And I had two children.”
In 2015, she got divorced from her first husband. By then Hyman, who’s never been married, had already long lived in Canada, but every year he would come to South Africa to visit his parents.
And life once again crossed their paths over a cup of coffee.
They soon got married and now live and work in Oxbow, raising two teenagers together.
“He is super kind to them… They understand one another, I think they get one another better than I get, dealing with my boys’ brains,” said Bodemer.
Thus, life changes brought the ex-couple together again, which became a great gift for the Oxbow community in particular, and struggling with recruiting and retaining physicians, the southeast community in general.
Bodemer said that the community has been really nice and she is glad to start her practice here.