Dr. Brian Ferguson feels community service is as important as service to the medical field. That belief has helped him win the award as the top rural physician in Nova Scotia.
AMHERST – Brian Ferguson had no idea community would mean so much to him when he came to Amherst with his wife in 1986 to set up a medical practice.
Since then he has been very active in both the medical community and in the community through his support for minor sports, police and fire, his church and the Atlantic Dance Academy.
Those efforts were recognized over the weekend when he was named the 2014 Doctors Nova Scotia Rural Physician of the Year during the organization’s annual meeting in Halifax.
“It’s an amazing honour and I am just so humbled to have received this recognition,” Ferguson said Tuesday. “It’s not only a recognition of what I’ve accomplished in the medical field, but what I’ve done in the community.”
As his four sons – Michael, Brad, Devin and Aaron – grew up Ferguson found himself working with minor hockey teams, little league and bantam baseball teams. He was a constant fixture at the rink and on the baseball diamonds of Cumberland County.
“I think the greatest memory and accomplishment I had was helping take a rag tag group of boys and convincing them they could win a provincial title,” Ferguson said. “It shows that you don’t have to be from the big city to be successful in sports, in your career or in life.”
The award is bestowed upon a rural physician who has made an outstanding contribution to the health of individuals, various community groups and/or to non-profit organizations in rural communities.
“I feel it’s not only important for doctors to be involved in the medical community, but also to contribute to their community both financially and by being involved,” Ferguson said.
Ferguson graduated from Dalhousie Medical School in 1980 and completed his rotating internship in 1981. He first opened a practice in Halifax, but after five years moved away from the city to begin a full scope practice in Amherst.
For the past 33 years, he has provided his rural community with inpatient care, ambulatory care clinics, nursing home care, and house calls. In addition to his own practice, he works shifts at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre’s emergency department.
Until 2006 he provided obstetrical care to patients.
“Not only is he committed to the patients of Cumberland County, but he’s also involved in the community as a whole through fund-raising projects, sports groups, and his church,” said nominator Dr. Celina White.
Ferguson’s greatest career accomplishment has been establishing a Level II emergency department at his hospital, and securing its regional status and the accompanying government financial support for specialist recruitment.
“We were the smallest regional hospital to achieve Level II status and that was significant in that government was obligated to provide funding for specialty services and it hasn’t been interrupted since,” he said. “It shows what a community can do when it works together.”
He is well known for his sense of humour, and his ability to relate to patients and put them at ease. He’s interested in furthering the education and training of allied health personnel in Nova Scotia and is always available to take an extra shift at the emergency department.
“He has been a wonderful father to his four sons and has rarely missed a baseball or hockey game or school event,” said White.
His greatest passion in life is following his sons’ career achievements.
Besides his coaching experience, Ferguson and his wife have been huge contributors financially over the years for minor baseball and minor hockey teams, he was the honorary chair of the Holy Family Parish capital campaign that saw the new church built in downtown Amherst. He was a special constable for the RCMP and was named an honorary member of the Amherst Fire Department along with Dawn Thompson for their support of the John Michels Sr. Ladder Sit for Muscular Dystrophy.
He was also the team doctor for the Amherst Ramblers for 18 years and the Cumberland County Blues for six years.