Follow Here To Purchase The Doc's Side: Tales of a Sunshine Coast Doctor

Author: Eric. J. Paetkau

Publisher: Harbour Publishing

ISBN: 978-1-55017-554-7

If you’re looking for a book that entertains; keeps your attention; captures the challenges of being a rural doctor “in the good old days”; introduces you to new terminology, rural living, faraway countries and the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia in Canada and more, then look no further.  The Doc’s Side offers all of that.

Author Eric Paetkau’s memoir is replete with personal stories about life as a recent graduate who arrives in a rural community to begin his professional career as a doctor. 

Paetkau is a gifted and natural storyteller. I quickly found myself on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia in September 1959 with Eric and Bonnie Paetkau who, after driving 12,000 kilometers, found themselves at the end of a twisting, coastal road that abruptly ended in front of a twin-gabled, two-storey building “perched impossibly on a bluff above.”  The newlyweds had arrived at St. Mary’s Hospital in Pender Harbour. Filled with excitement, curiosity and energy, their encounter with the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia had just begun.  

Humorist, memoirist, historian, global traveler, missioner, and surgeon-author, Eric Paetkau has a memory that many envy and he creatively wraps his reflections and memories of incidents, people and experiences in a delightful book of personal and professional tales. 

Readers of this book will experience Paetkau’s anxious first-time house call; the Sunday Tea Rounds; the uninflated pessiary as a new approach to uterine prolapse; Harry’s use of novocaine for erectile dysfunction; the mother whose marasmic three month old infant weighed less than her birth weight admitting that the  ‘milk’ in the blue bottle (a mixture of half-milk and half-apple juice) was Milk of Magnesia!; his animal euthanasia practice because there was no vet on the peninsula; the house-call for the wild man (legendary Belgian Joe?) who was locked in a root cellar; the hippies who tried to eat the placenta of their newborn baby - raw; the dangers faced by West Coast loggers on a daily basis; the joys and frustrations of being the only surgeon for an isolated community 365 days a year; and more!

Those considering rural medicine would be wise to read this book as would interns and new doctors about to set up their medical practice.  Doing so will introduce them to the unique way Dr. Paetkau and his colleagues set up their medical practice clinic ... every five years, each doctor took a year-long paid sabbatical.  It was an arrangement that resulted in no financial stress because their salaries continued while on sabbatical; no professional/personal burn-out because of the break in the intensity of their demanding practice; as well as personal growth and re-creation because of the opportunity to learn new medical techniques and experience new cultures while on their sabbatical.

Paetkau’s experiences in San Francisco (where he encountered the Boontling language), and his experiences in Somalia and Tajikistan are eye-opening and make this book mandatory reading for anyone considering overseas mission work in any developing country.  

If these experiences weren’t enough, there are tales of the author’s frustration with government policies and his consideration of a political life, his role as a locum in the Northwest Terrritories, as well as hospital surveyor for Accreditation  Canada.  

Always the optimist, Dr. Eric Paetkau’s life is a testimony to the importance of remembering the words on a sign he first encountered at the end of a a high altitude hike with friends:  “Life is uncertain; eat dessert first.”   

This book is delicious dessert. 


Follow Here To Purchase The Doc's Side: Tales of a Sunshine Coast Doctor