In 2012, Bruce Mullin took his physiotherapy career from one side of the Pacific Ocean to the other, moving from Brisbane, Australia, back to his hometown of Prince Rupert, British Columbia, to pursue an exciting management opportunity.
Northern Health offered him the chance to work as the Chief Physiotherapist at Prince Rupert Regional Hospital in the B.C. town of about 12,000 people, located near the Alaska-B.C. border.
The Simon Fraser University kinesiology graduate had been living and working in Australia for five years, first studying at the University of Queensland to obtain his Master of Physiotherapy degree in 2008, and then working as a Physiotherapist with Queensland Health as well as in a private hospital.
Read on to see why this young physiotherapist jumped at the opportunity to return to his hometown.
Returning to life in B.C.
When Bruce first left B.C. to pursue his Master’s degree in Brisbane, Australia, he knew he was leaving behind an enviable lifestyle; located near the Pacific Ocean, numerous lakes, and a mountain range, Prince Rupert is ideally located for outdoor enthusiasts.
“If you like the outdoors, like I do, Prince Rupert is the place to be,” he says. “The great thing about summer here is that the sun doesn’t go down until about 10:30 p.m., so you can jump in the boat and go fishing for salmon in the river or trout in a lake, or go kayaking in the ocean – you can do all of that after work.”
As he describes his outdoor lifestyle, it’s obvious that Bruce was eager to make the move from Brisbane back to B.C. “It is something that I’ve always wanted to be able to do,” he says. “So when the opportunity came and Northern Health welcomed me with open arms, I took it.”
Bruce also notes that returning to B.C. was an easy decision thanks to the relocation support provided by Northern Health. “After living in Australia for five years, trying to move all of my stuff was a challenge,” Bruce explains. “They were very informative and supportive, and really helped me navigate the relocation process.”
Taking on a leadership role
Once settled, Bruce immediately set to work as Chief Physiotherapist at the Prince Rupert Regional Hospital – an exciting leadership role for a new hire with four years’ experience. He attributes his early advancement to strong credentials, timing, and the desire to live in Prince Rupert, noting that in larger hospitals, leadership positions may take longer to earn. He explains that no matter when opportunities for advancement arise, Northern Health is really good at providing support and mentorship to help you through the process.
As Chief Physiotherapist, Bruce was surrounded by opportunities to develop his leadership skills: from hiring new staff, to building his own physiotherapy team. Bruce even had the opportunity to participate in the development of a new student-led clinic in the hospital. “I just came here and hit the ground running!” he says.
Bruce is the first to credit his successful transition to the support provided by Northern Health. “Everyone in the department was very welcoming and helpful, especially during the orientation stage when I was most nervous,” Bruce recalls.
Since he was the hospital’s primary physiotherapy practitioner, Northern Health also provided the contact information of other physiotherapists in the area who he could refer his patients to or call on for information. Bruce also had the opportunity to communicate with and provide feedback to the most senior people in the organization about how things were going – a mentorship experience that instilled confidence in him.
A day in the life of a Chief Physiotherapist at Northern Health
While he insists there’s no such thing as a “typical” day in his role, Bruce often starts each morning by meeting with his team to discuss the day ahead. After that, his schedule is an ever-changing mix of team management, patient appointments and more, thanks to the role’s high level of autonomy and flexibility.
Although his role is managerial, Bruce still has the opportunity to regularly interact with patients. In fact, he estimates that he spends about 75% of his time on patient care! Bruce notes that this balance between patient care and leadership tasks keeps the job interesting and allows him to develop a varied skillset.
His patients and their needs are also diverse. Bruce says that, on any given day, he might see patients who have mobility challenges or chronic pain, or those who are recovering from recent surgeries or are being diagnosed with diseases such as multiple sclerosis (MS). “It can vary drastically from one day to the next,” he says.
As a hometown boy, people often approach him and ask questions outside of the hospital too, but he doesn’t mind. “It comes with the job,” and is a testament to the important role he plays within the community.
Soaking in the B.C. lifestyle
Far from the hustle and bustle of large cities like Vancouver, Toronto and, of course, Brisbane, Bruce has been able to reclaim his appreciation for the more relaxed pace of life that defines Prince Rupert.
With no stressful work commute, extra-long summer days, and breathtaking natural scenery, Bruce can spend his free time enjoying his favourite activities, like fishing, hiking and running. You’ll also find him at his parents’ cabin just outside of Terrace – about an hour and a half away – on the weekends. And although Prince Rupert typically has mild coastal winters, the nearby mountain range gets plenty of snow and is a great ski and snowboard destination.
Evidently, Prince Rupert is an idyllic place to launch a career. “It’s not hard to live here in Prince Rupert,” Bruce says. “There’s always something to do!”