Story by Ben Surby and Brian Chee
Galahad, Red Earth Creek, and High Level may not be the first communities you think of in Alberta, but they each offer their own combination of beauty, adventure, and opportunity. These three communities are only a few of the over 120 distinctive cities, towns, and villages scattered across Alberta.
Tyler Smith, a unit manager with Alberta Health Services (AHS), moved to rural Alberta a few years ago and hasn’t looked back since.
“I am often asked, ‘What brought you out to rural Alberta?’ The short answer is - family. Family is very important to me. In 2012 my wife and I decided to offer our children the opportunity to experience the rural environment she grew up in. Now our girls know the thrill of a yard with no boundaries, the excitement of wild deer in our back yard and the joys of a good gopher hunt.”
Everyone has their own reason to live and work in rural Alberta; from wanting to make a difference in your hometown, falling in love with the Northern Lights, to finding the right career fit. Here are some of the top reasons to make your next career move into a rural move:
Working in a rural community builds lasting connections. Colleagues quickly become friends, family, and neighbors. You become integrated into your community and can make a major impact. Helped a patient yesterday? You might bump into them again on your morning run or at the local supermarket. Rural healthcare is encapsulated by close relationships. You are likely to see patients through the full extent of their hospital visit, and this helps build a unique rapport, not always found in urban centres.
Rural communities, with their low crime rates, are some of the safest places to raise your family. You can easily get to know your neighbours and build a strong community support system. Better yet, you have the chance to help shape your community by getting involved with local sports teams, town councils, community watch programs, and volunteer organizations! This collaborative approach extends to the education system which boasts small class sizes and unique extra-curricular activities for children of all ages. Along with this, technology has extended the ability to learn wherever you are located, giving previously remote communities many more options.
In contrast to major cities, rural experience is characterized by working as a multi-disciplinary team, where everyone contributes whatever and wherever they can. Offering a broad scope of practice comes with a multitude of learning opportunities, where you are challenged to think on your feet and collaborate with your team. Have you ever loaded a patient onto a medevac flight or treated an elk attack? You’ll get the opportunity to work with cases you wouldn’t normally see in larger centers.
Working rural allows you to be a bigger fish and make a larger splash in a smaller pond. It is an opportunity to be recognized by your leaders and within your community, ensuring your impact is never lost in the fold. You can quickly find your niche, climb the ladder, and reap the benefits in a way that isn’t always present in a larger center. Rural experience can be a great addition to your resume; managers recognize the value, variety and scope of practice.
Rural communities offer many advantages, not only for your career, but also for you and your family. Take a step outside of your front door and be welcomed by Alberta’s famous breath-taking natural beauty. From fishing, camping, to horseback riding, there is plenty to see and do. Outdoor adventure not your thing? There is an abundance of fantastic community centres, hobby groups, and festivals to be found throughout Alberta’s small towns. Rural work, at AHS and elsewhere, can be accompanied by unique hours and flexibility, providing an unmatched lifestyle.
Tired of being stuck in traffic for hours on your drive home? Your next commute could be as short as a five minute walk or as beautiful as a drive through the Rocky Mountains. Imagine the additional time you’d have in your day for family, hobbies, or to catch up on that extra hour of sleep. While you are at it, stop by the local farmers market, or go directly to the source, and feast on some of the freshest food Alberta can offer. Making your paycheck go farther can be easier in a smaller city; smaller cities often have lower costs of living. You’ll be surprised by your improved lifestyle and bank account!
In the end, living in a rural community might not be for everybody, but there are so many reasons to give it a try, and we haven’t even mentioned the unique landmarks and historic stories included in our community spotlights. You might just find your ideal career, lifestyle, and future home.