The Gushue Girls of Gander
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A Q&A with the Clarenville area physician
Dr. Allan O’Reilly of Clarenville Medical Arts is retiring this April.
©Jonathan Parsons/TC Media
Dr. Alan O’Reilly is retiring in April, after practicing medicine in Clarenville for 35 years.
The well-respected physician plans on spending his retirement doing the things he’s likely not had enough time to enjoy over the past decades. Though O’Reilly is taking down his shingle, he’ll continue to hang his hat in Clarenville.
“We’ll definitely be staying here. There’s no better place,” he said during a recent phone interview.
O’Reilly also took time to answer other questions for The Packet.
Where were you born and where were you educated?
I was born and grew up in Bishop’s Falls. I went to school in Bishop’s Falls (Regina Pacis) up to Grade eight, then I went to Grand Falls (St. Michael’s High School).
Where did you get your medical degree and what year?
We were the MUN graduating class of ’76.
Why did you choose to be a doctor?
I was always interested in medicine from the time I was young. I used to read my aunt’s medical book. She had a book for home doctors. At that time also there was a Dr. Tulk in Bishop’s Falls. His wife had a society called a Teenaged Anti-Cancer Society. When I was between 10 and 12 I was a member of that. We’d meet about once a month and listen to medical stuff.
Where did you practice before coming to Clarenville?
I was in the cottage hospital system, in Come-By-Chance. I was there for five years – from ’77 to ’82.
Why did you choose to come to Clarenville?
I was familiar with the area and a couple of my classmates, Dr. Crewe and Dr. Hunt, were already working here. I just liked the area. It’s a great place to raise a family. Being here working (close to home) meant I could read the bedtime stories almost every night. So, the things that really matter, you get to do.
What were some of the best things about being a doctor in small-town NL?
Meeting the people. The friendships you develop, the relationships you make. Every patient is a friend.
What were some of the challenges of being a doctor in small-town NL?
Getting coverage when someone took a holiday … you had to see each other’s patients. And we used to do a lot of nights and weekends when the hospital came here. So, between the practice and the hospital it was really busy times. We tried to get a locum to come in but it was very seldom we could do that. So getting away used to be our biggest challenge.
Do you have other family members who have been, or are, in the medical field?
I have a daughter Heather (O’Reilly). She’s currently doing a fellowship in pediatric anesthesia in Ottawa.
Do you have any other children?
I have a son, Mark. He’s a marine engineer and is into health and safety.
What about your wife?
My wife is Daphne. She is from St. Anthony. I met her in my internship when I was up there as part of my training. When you asked about challenges (of living in a small community), Daphne was a teacher. She was initially employed when we moved here. She took time off when she had the kids and she couldn’t get back into the (education) field.
What was one of the most humorous moments in your years in medicine?
Lots of things are humorous but usually when you analyze them, someone is a bit embarrassed by what was humorous. So, I can’t get into that one.
Do you have any advice for anyone who is contemplating becoming a medical doctor?
You’ve got to have grit. You have to stick with it. I know some very qualified, very deserving people who go through university, get their degree, apply to medical school, two or three times. They end up doing their masters. So, just waiting to get (to medical school). Because, no matter how bright or how deserving you are, it’s seldom the case that you get in the first time you apply.
How do you plan to spend your retirement?
(Laughs). Relaxing. I’ve got lots of hobbies from sailing to mountain biking to fishing to hiking. I like carpentry and I want to learn a couple of languages. French and Spanish would be nice.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
What I’d really like to say is a big thank you to all the wonderful people that I’ve had the great privilege to be part of their lives … people of all ages. I particularly like the elderly.