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Dr. Michael Abdalmassih New Doctor in the Swan River Valley

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Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) recently announced they retained five International Medical Graduate Doctors to fill positions in the health region. 
Swan River was one of the communities fortunate enough to gain one of these physicians to practice in the community. Dr. Michael Abdalmassih moved to the community last week and started at the Swan  River Primary Care Centre on Oct 1. Although he hails from a foreign country, he considers himself still a country boy at heart who grew up living the farm life. 
“I’m a country boy who grew up and practiced family medicine in rural Upper Egypt,” said Abdalmassih. 
“I was raised on a farm myself and attended Cairo University School of Medicine, in Egypt. I also had post-graduate training at the University of Manitoba. I was driven to deliver, in rural and remote Egypt, primary care and other services that were otherwise provided by specialists in larger cities.
“I became a doctor because I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives. This decision was driven largely by values instilled in me by my faith and my family. The idea of helping others regardless of circumstances, leading people to healthier and happier lives is fulfilling. "As I mentioned my connection to rural communities runs deep; it goes back to my childhood," he continued. "I remember the time when
my father would have to travel eight hours just to see his doctor and get his treatment which was  exhausting, expensive, and far from home. I have seen  first handed that there will never be enough 
physicians in rural areas to care for patients’ needs closer to their homes. At this point, I decided that I
want to be part of the solution.” 
Abdalmassih knew the Medical Licensure Program for International Medical Graduates (MLPIMG) was a great program to help him work in a variety of clinical experiences in both urban and rural settings, which
in turn provides an abundance of opportunities for a physician in Manitoba. “The MLPIMG program is by far one of the best programs in Canada,” said Abdalmassih.
“The program prepares its residents to work in rural Manitoba. The program considers our previous clinical experience, refines it, and makes it match the Canadians expectations through one year of rotations in different specialties in rural and urban settings. Academically, the program provides continuous medical education through weekly educational settings during the training year and the mentorship program for one more year after the training. 
“The program director and all the clerks in the program are amazing, they are strong advocates for their residents. I’ve seen a lot of internationally trained physicians, who thrived through this program and became successful in the communities where they serve.”
To be selected in the MLPIMG program can be a daunting one for physicians because they really focus on the candidates who are exceptional and have a diverse background in the medical field. This was  something Dr. Abdalmassih worked hard to achieve through a variety of extra studies, fellowship training and observerships.
“The MLPIMG program is very competitive and to be selected, you have to stand out as a candidate,”
said Abdalmassih. “I can confidently say that everything I did since I landed was a part of this process. It started by doing the licensing exams to be eligible to apply to the program. I wanted to understand more  about how the Canadian health care system works, so I went beyond the requirements of the program.
"I studied at McMaster University and have a Clinical Research Associate Diploma degree. Also, I have a 2-year post-graduate fellowship training in Radiation Oncology at CancerCare Manitoba.
There I was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation in recognition of extraordinary service and dedication to patient care. 
I also have done several observerships, especially in a rural setting such as Eriksdale Crowe Memorial Hospital and at Lakeshore General Hospital.
I volunteered in a clinical research and have a few publications in international journals. All that I have done was to help me reach my ultimate goal; to provide the best medical service to the community that I will happily serve.”
The end goal gave Abdalmassih the medical training and expertise to practice the fields he was most eager to be in. His own personal experiences with a loved one’s medical condition have given him the ability to be compassionate and understanding when it comes to the diagnosis and treatment of patients.
“I’m a family physician with ample training in clinical oncology,” said Abdalmassih. “The main reason for my interest and additional training in oncology was the overwhelming number of cancer patients I saw
daily, as a medical student and intern. I saw firsthand how many diseases and conditions, like cancer, 
start in the community and how they can be prevented or lessened with proper education and awareness.
“My father passed away from cancer. As a General Practitioner (GP) who was raised in the community where I practiced, I was ideally positioned to understand patients, their families, their context, and their
specific healthcare needs. 
I shared with them a sacred space, deep connections, compassion, and care that fit with their  circumstances.”
Being new to the Valley, Abdalmassih and his family are excited to be a part of a community that has that rural quality of life where everyone looks out for each other. “Sherry, my wife is a pharmacist and we have a daughter, Stephanie, who is in Grade 6, and a son, Philopateer, who is almost four years old,” said Abdalmassih. “For us, we see Swan River as a small town that has the same values I grew up to value
the most. It’s a place where people know each other, look out for each other and care about each other. Also, the lifestyle that one can lead here is incredible. "I’m all into outdoor activities and love hiking,
camping, swimming, skating, and looking forward to fishing. It’s a peaceful place being closer to nature
and closer to farms, a place I could call home. I look forward to knowing the people in Swan River and for them to know me. 
I long for being a dedicated professional who cares for others with compassion. “Practicing medicine in
Swan River is very dynamic.
My colleagues are all top of the notch. They’re at the cutting edge of medicine and that helps to practice medicine at a higher level of excellence. I look forward to being part of this team.”