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Dr. Gehad Gobran is the new president of Doctors Nova Scotia

Doctors Nova Scotia (DNS) has a new president. Dr. Gehad Gobran, a Halifax-based family physician, was sworn in as DNS’s new president at the association’s annual conference on June 8.

“I think we lose sight of how good Nova Scotia’s medical system is when we only focus on the problems,” said Dr. Gobran. “We need to continue to focus on working with our partners to fix the system issues.”

Dr. Gobran credits his colleagues and the health-care system for saving his life in 2013, when he suffered a serious medical issue as he was leaving a church service.

“Had the paramedics arrived just five minutes later, I would have died,” he said. He thanks the paramedics and Emergency Health Services system for keeping him alive until he reached the emergency department and his colleagues for treating him.

Although he appreciates the health-care system, he recognizes it is under considerable strain, with a shortage of family physicians and under-resourced hospital services. “Wait times for certain investigations and surgeries are long. It’s concerning for patients and it’s also concerning for the physicians who are working so hard under these circumstances.”

Dr. Gobran has practised as a family physician at the Duffus Health Centre in Halifax since 2008. The collaborative practice includes 11 physicians, three family practice nurses, a social worker and seven administrative staff. He sees first-hand the benefits of a medical health home, which provides longitudinal care to patients. The clinic offers same-day and evening appointments, as well as walk-in access, to ensure continuity of care for the clinic’s patients. This also reduces pressure on an emergency medicine system that is overcapacity.

“Stabilizing family medicine for all Nova Scotians is work that must continue. It will take time, but our province has already made progress with the latest contract for physicians and other initiatives that aim to make Nova Scotia a more attractive place to practise medicine,” he said.

Dr. Gobran emigrated to Nova Scotia from Egypt in 2003. When he first started his family practice career in Nova Scotia, he needed help navigating the provincial health system. He credits the Duffus team for their support and said he also recognizes that our province, communities and the medical profession have an opportunity to better ensure physicians, particularly international medical graduates, feel welcomed and supported.

Dr. Gobran is also an assistant professor in the Department of Family Medicine at Dalhousie University. He takes shifts in community walk-in clinics, practises at the Newcomer Health Clinic, which provides health care to refugees in Halifax, and serves as the medical director for the Sagewood Continuing Care Community in Sackville. He is a member of Nova Scotia Health’s Care by Design Program, which provides frail seniors with access to high-quality, consistent primary health care.

“I love the diversity of family medicine,” he said, “because I can care for patients across all stages of their lives.”

Dr. Gobran was born in Egypt, and chose medicine as his vocation in high school, when both of his parents suffered from serious health issues. He wanted to know more about medicine and how to help his parents and others. Sadly, he lost both parents before he finished his medical studies in 1986.

He completed a residency in family medicine, but then went on to specialize in cardiology. In 1991, he became a cardiologist and practised in Egypt for 12 years, until he decided to leave for Canada. Dr. Gobran was seeking a safe place to raise his family and he liked what he had heard about the Canadian health-care system.

Due to the differences in training between Canada and Egypt, Dr. Gobran first became a clinical associate in cardiology at the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax. He speaks fondly of the five years he spent on the cardiology team. But then he learned that the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada would require him to do another residency in cardiology to become a fully licensed cardiologist.

With a young family to support and still facing the challenges of settling in a new country, Dr. Gobran felt that a second residency was out of the question. He decided to focus on family medicine.

In 2007, he wrote the Royal College of Family Physicians of Canada Certification Examination in Family Medicine to become a fully licensed family doctor by the College of Family Physicians of Nova Scotia. He joined the Duffus Health Centre shortly after. In total, Dr. Gobran has 38 years of experience in medicine.

He served a three-year term on the DNS Board of Directors (2019–22), during which he served on the association’s E-health and Audit committees and as a member of the Section of Family Doctors Council. He also chairs the Section of Long-term Care Physicians. In 2020, he completed Dalhousie Medical School’s Emerging Leaders in Academic Medicine program.

Outside of medicine, Dr. Gobran cultivates strong family relationships with his wife, Iren, who is a pharmacist in Halifax, and their two children. Their son is a third-year medical student and their daughter is studying physiotherapy, both at Dalhousie University. Dr. Gobran also enjoys gardening, and he spends time in his extensive vegetable garden every day during the summer months. 

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