Dr. Robert Kelley’s work brims with variety.
His Charlottetown family practice of roughly 1,700 patients offers a welcoming daily diversity of experience.
© Jim Day - The Guardian
Dr. Robert Kelley says he is honoured to be selected by his colleagues as Canada's Family Physician of the Year in P.E.I.
“In the office you see infants and you see right up to end-of-life care and that is a nice balance and variety to see in the office,’’ says Kelley.
While the family practice accounts for the majority of his work — he puts in a standard 40-hour week at the office — Kelley mixes in another 10 to 15 hours of work each week with a host of other duties. He serves as house physician at the Prince Edward nursing home and is a staff physician at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, the Provincial Correctional Centre and the Provincial Addictions Treatment Facility.
Clearly the quality of his work does not suffer as a result of the impressive variety of roles that he successfully juggles.
Kelley has been named Canada’s Family Physician of the Year in P.E.I., an annual honour bestowed on one outstanding family doctor from each province. Each award recipient, nominated by their peers and colleagues, is recognized for exceptional professional achievements and contributions to their patients, family medicine teaching and research, and their respective communities.
“It’s an honour to be selected by your colleagues,’’ says Kelley. “It’s nice to receive a pat on the back.’’
Kelley, who is originally from the Moncton area, went to high school in Charlottetown and then to UPEI for his undergraduate studies before heading to Dalhousie University in Halifax where he completed medical school.
He began his medical career at Summerside Medical Centre, where he provided comprehensive family medicine, including obstetrics and working as an emergency room physician at Prince County Hospital. He moved his practice to Charlottetown in 2000.
“I went to high school here and I went to university here and my spouse (Inge Dorsey) is from here as well, so it certainly felt like home for us,’’ says Kelley.
He shares with three other doctors the task of tending to inmates at the Provincial Correctional Centre. The jail offers quite a change from what he normally sees in his office.
“It did take a little getting used to going through the locked doors into a locked facility,’’ he says.
“The actual people I am seeing out there’’ he is quick to add, “have been consistently polite and easy to deal with. I don’t have any fear when I am there seeing patients.’’
The heart of Kelley’s work, though, is the family practice on the second floor of the Boardwalk Professional Centre.
Kelley relishes building long-term relationships with his patients. He makes a point to take an extra minute or two to chat with them about their lives in general.
“And I think that does build up trust over time,’’ he says.
“You know,’’ he adds, “it certainly is very gratifying when you do have the opportunity to follow people over time and see people dealing with sometimes very significant health issues and many times people can get very acutely unwell but are able to come through that and recover and get back to their regular family and work-life. And that is very gratifying to be a part of that and to see that.’’
Kelly, 47, who plays old-timers hockey, goes for a 30-minute run most days for both his physical health and to manage stress. Running a family practice, though, appears to generate far more satisfaction than stress for the doctor.
“I’m certainly very happy with my work now and don’t have any plan at the moment to feel that I need a change of career direction,’’ he says.