Although he officially retired, it’s unlikely that Dr. Tim MacDonald will have any time to twiddle his thumbs.
After serving Petrolia for 45 years, the popular family doctor has closed his practice, ending a career that saw him care for three generations of patients.
“I’ve enjoyed it very much,” Dr. MacDonald said Wednesday during his retirement party. “Your patients are your friends and it’s very hard not to like them.”
Delivering babies was a highlight, the 76-year-old said.
“You start with one patient and end with two,” MacDonald explained, adding he delivered a baby girl and years later, her five children.
“The oldest boy is now taller than I am.” he said. “I feel like a grandfather.”
As well as being a general practitioner, Dr. MacDonald has worked as a Lambton County coroner for 40 years, a job he will continue to do.
He will also continue as the director of Meadowview Villa, instruct at Lambton College once a week, and provide airline pilots with fitness examinations.
His wife Liz, a R.N. who worked alongside her husband in the family practice said she knows she’s married to a man who will “never retire.”
But she gets it.
“We both loved our careers. We both love Petrolia, it’s our home, and more or less, our family.”
Born in Scotland, Dr. MacDonald graduated from Glasgow University with specialized training in anesthesiology and obstetrics. But 48 years ago, doctors in the U.K. made less money than registered nurses, so the couple decided to come to Canada.
Eliot Lake was their first stop. They came to Petrolia in 1971 and never looked back.
While Macdonald believes that technology has “generally improved” medicine, it said it is taking away the personal touch.
“Pushing electronic records is probably a mistake,” MacDonald noted. “It’s adding a level of complexity you don’t need.”
Often it comes down to a choice of “chatting or charting,” he said, adding doctors and nurses on the frontlines don’t have time to look after people because they are so busy collecting data.
“They are looking after computers and algorithms rather than patients.”
Another change he has witnessed during his career in medicine is a drop in suicide numbers, but a rise in drug overdoses.
“Lambton County is plagued by a fentanyl epidemic,” Dr. MacDonald says.
Along with working his part-time jobs, Dr. MacDonald hopes to use his library card, see more of his grandchildren, and grow some vegetables in the backyard.
Also, he and Liz are planning to travel to Scotland and Mexico at least twice a year.
Despite the many changes in medicine, Dr. MacDonald said he would definitely recommend it as a career.
“I don’ think there is anything better than helping people.”