Dr. Ryan Oland

Top 40 Under 40 2015

Photography Curtis Comeau

Age: 39

Job Title: Chief of Medical Staff, WestView Health Centre; Assistant Clinical Professor, Department of Emergency Medicine, University of Alberta

Why He’s Top 40: He’s not only helping save patients’ lives in the emergency room, but he’s also trying to find ways to attract doctors to rural areas that badly need them.

If you could change one thing about Edmonton, what would it be? Its lacklustre brand. “Edmontonians are up to great things – enhancing the city in the areas of arts, education, business and environmental appeal. This kind of civic stewardship deserves more attention.”

Sixteen years after taking the Hippocratic Oath, Dr. Ryan Oland considers emergency medicine a young man’s game.

Not only does dealing with people on the worst days of their lives take an emotional toll, but shift work itself can actually shave years off your life. “They say it’s like smoking a pack of smokes a day,” he says.

Even so, his commitment to the vocation hasn’t waned.

“The more I practise it, the more I like it.”

It’s a paradox without an obvious cure. But gradually, Oland has been moving his career toward leadership roles that involve more administrative work than ER shifts. In 2012, he became the chief of staff at WestView Health Centre in Stony Plain, which he believes makes him one of the youngest doctors to hold such a position at an Edmonton-area hospital. Since then, he has supervised 70 other doctors in the hospital’s emergency, surgical, acute care and long-term care departments.

Nevertheless, Oland is still in the ER much of the time, supervising the training of University of Alberta medical students and resident doctors. In 2008, he helped create a partnership between WestView and the U of A – where he also teaches part-time – in an effort to attract more doctors to rural hospitals like his. With a little exposure to these facilities, doctors often stick around and the program seems to be working. Since it began, medical centres in the Stony Plain area have hired an additional 20 physicians, he says.

Despite being so busy, Oland is always looking for ways to fill in the gaps in the medical system. Over the years, he has set up several programs to relieve pressure on Edmonton hospitals. Most recently, he created the Emergency Room Clinical Associates (ER-CA) program at WestView, in which highly trained nurses help patients find care outside of the city’s overtaxed ERs.

Much of this work falls outside of Oland’s job description, but he considers it well within the scope of his professional obligations.

“It’s important to perpetuate the profession and pass on what you learn,” he says.

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