From Nova Scotia To Northern B.C.: Physiotherapy Grad Relocates To Work With Northern Health


Her bags are packed and she’s ready to go – to northern British Columbia.

After completing her kinesiology degree at Acadia University in 2009, and then a Master of Science in Physical Therapy at Queen’s University earlier this year, Gillian Grant is ready for the biggest adventure of her life so far: moving from one coast to the other to start her career as a Physiotherapist with Northern Health.

Originally from Sydney, Nova Scotia, on the east coast of Cape Breton Island, Gillian will travel nearly 5,000 kilometers at the end of September to the port city of Prince Rupert, B.C., to work in the Primary Care Unit at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital.

Getting to know Northern Health

She first considered starting her career with the health authority when she met Northern Health Recruiter Ashley Ellerbeck at a job fair at Queen’s.

“I was thinking about coming to work closer to home on the east coast, so talking to [Ashley] there opened my eyes to a whole new area,” Gillian says. “She really sold me on the active, outdoor lifestyle aspect of northern B.C., and how I could definitely have a great life outside of work in addition to what they could offer employment-wise.”

Gillian was immediately drawn to the province’s northern coastal region due to its similarities to Nova Scotia: communities scattered across lush, rolling green hills populated by friendly, welcoming people. She also loved the idea of working at a hospital in a small town: “In larger cities, if I were to work in a hospital, I might be more limited in the type of experience I’d get.”

Ashley recommended Kitimat and Prince Rupert – both located near the coast just south of the tip of the Alaska-British Columbia border – and set up phone interviews to see if Gillian might be a good fit.

Up close and personal in northern B.C.

What came next, however, most new grads – including Gillian – would never expect. Given the current number of physiotherapy vacancies, two communities vying for Gillian and the fact that Ashley had a prearranged road trip to the northwest to meet with hiring managers, Northern Health opted to bring their top candidate out to tag along with the recruiter. Providing her with a firsthand look was the best way to solidify her decision to begin her exciting new career in this beautiful region.

Northern Health flew her out to northern B.C., to Prince George, to meet up with Ashley and then embark on a four-day road trip to the coast to experience Kitimat and Prince Rupert first hand.

In Kitimat, they explored the town, visited the hospital and went on a hike with some of Gillian’s potential future colleagues from the rehab department. “It was really great that a couple of them came out to show us around and answer some of my questions from a staff point of view,” Gillian says.

They did much of the same in Prince Rupert, only instead of a hike they went on a whale watching tour. “The whale watching tour was my highlight for sure. They do grizzly bear tours at other times of the year, so I’d like to do that one day.”

Check out these amazing photos from Gillian and Ashley’s northern B.C. road trip:

Making the move: From Sydney, N.S. to Prince Rupert, B.C.

Gillian ultimately settled on Prince Rupert and, since then, has been frantically getting everything organized for her big move. Luckily, Northern Health is helping out with a lot of the expenses. “They do offer a great relocation package which will reimburse the pretty substantial costs to move out there. I’m shipping my car, some boxes and flying out there myself,” she says.

Clearly Northern Health is committed to bringing the best and brightest young healthcare professionals to northern B.C.!

Her soon-to-be colleagues in Prince Rupert have offered for her to stay with them until she finds an apartment and Ashley has also been emailing Gillian apartment listings every few days. “Without all of Ashley’s constant communication, help and support, I probably wouldn’t have gone so far away from home,” she says. “She’s really gone above and beyond to make sure I’m able to make this decision and that I’ll be looked after once I arrive.”

Gillian will begin her new job on October 1st. She will shadow and help other physiotherapists at first, working alongside a number of different healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, occupational therapists, dietitians and speech language pathologists. She says she’s looking forward to the mentorship that her more experienced colleagues will provide: “If I have questions, there will be someone close by to address them, and someone will be able to supervise me a little bit more in the beginning until I’m comfortable with how things go.”

Outside of work, Gillian already has plans to take advantage of autumn before it’s over: she wants to go golfing at the 18-hole Prince Rupert Golf Course, rent a kayak and go paddling, and hike some of the trails around the city. Although Prince Rupert itself doesn’t get much snow, the nearest ski hill is only an hour away and she definitely wants to hit the slopes this winter.

Why relocate?

The decision to relocate to northern B.C., away from all of her friends and family, was a difficult one, but Gillian is looking forward to making a difference in a community that has a genuine need for passionate, qualified healthcare professionals.

“It might seem pretty intimidating to come all the way out to northern B.C., especially if you’ve never been there, but the people have been so friendly, helpful and welcoming already, and I haven’t even gotten there yet,” she says. “I think it would be something that you would never regret trying, either short-term or for your first job to gain a little experience. I’m really looking forward to the opportunity and I encourage others to think about it.”

Now that everything is in place for her big move, what’s Gillian’s biggest concern? “I’m almost afraid I’ll like it too much and never come back to my family.”

Northern Health is hiring for numerous entry level healthcare jobs across northern British Columbia. Visit Northern Health’s profile to learn more and apply.

About the author

Cassandra Jowett is TalentEgg's Content Manager. She joined the team as a student intern in the summer of 2008, and since then her heart has never really left the Egg Carton. Cassandra is a recent graduate of the Ryerson University School of Journalism, where she earned a Bachelor of Journalism with a focus in writing and editing for newspapers. She has also written and edited for The Globe and Mail, The National Post, t.o.night newspaper and other publications.