Dr. Bruce Nicolson is about to hang up the stethoscope at the Exeter Clinic.
After 42 years in the community, the 100 Mile House doctor said he plans to retire at the end of August to devote more time to his family and grandchildren, aged two and six months.
The father-of-five plans to spend more time between his home in 100 Mile House and Victoria, where he has another home.
“I have these two beautiful grandchildren. I want to spend more time with them,” he said.
Nicolson said he will continue to offer consults and do surgical work at the 100 Mile Hospital, while the Exeter Clinic will be left in the hands of a new nurse practitioner, Emily Warren, whom he has been working with for the past two months.
He described Warren, who went to school in 100 Mile House, as “bright, young and committed to staying here.”
“I have great faith and confidence in my colleagues,” he said. “Everyone will still have primary care. They will be looked after.”
Nicolson, who was born and raised in Coquitlam, had been practicing surgery and anesthesia in New Zealand and Australia in preparation for rural practice when he accepted a six-month locum position in 100 Mile House in 1979.
“I never thought that would take me on a journey for 42 years,” he said, adding he stayed because of a combination of the practice itself, the collegiality of the doctors and being able to use the extra skills he had in surgery and anesthetics, as well as the people.
“A rural community is very supportive and I enjoyed that very much for sure,” he said.
In 2020, his work in the 100 Mile community earned him a BC Rural Health Awards Lifetime Achievement. During the past four decades, he has travelled regularly to White Feather Clinic at the Canim Lake reserve to provide closer-to-home care and has served multiple terms as the Chief of Staff of the 100 Mile District General Hospital.
He was also one of the first physicians to add a nurse practitioner to the Exeter Clinic, was a founding member of the Central Interior Rural Division of Family Practice and helped lead the local deployment of ‘A GP for Me’ an initiative to attach patients to a local primary care provider.
Nicolson said it’s hard to let go after being so intimately involved in the community and his patients’ lives. It’s been flattering, he said, to have been able to share their joys and grief over the years. At the same time, he said, patients have provided him with their positivity and support over the years.
“You get very close to your patients. It’s hard to let go,” he said. “I’ve got a lot back too. People don’t understand that about this job. That’s what’s kept me here. It’s been a wonderful relationship.”