Sarnia’s newest family physician has travelled the world to study medicine, but his interest began on the banks of Lake Huron.
“There’s something about looking across the lake and wondering what’s on the other side that made me curious about everything,” said Dr. Will Southcott, a St. Christopher’s grad who grew up in Sarnia.
Southcott has a strong medical pedigree. His father, Dr. William Peter Southcott, is an orthopedic surgeon in Sarnia and his grandfather practiced in London.
He took biology at the University of Waterloo and, after hearing of an acquaintance that studied medicine in Poland, decided to follow suit.
From the Medical University of Lodz he travelled to England to complete the final years of his medical training at St. George’s University of London.
When Southcott, 31, was ready to return to North America he took on residencies in Louisiana, Chicago and finally in Wheeling, West Virginia.
Having trained in countries with socialized medicine he found adjusting to the U.S. health-care system difficult at first, he said.
For example, one doctor he worked for encouraged him to prescribe more medication for a patient based not on illness but on the patient’s insurance status.
But Southcott learned to navigate the for-profit system, he said.
“Overall, the quality of medicine is dependent on who is delivering it.”
Eventually, the time came for Southcott to decide where to set up his own practice. His partner, Erica Jay, said they almost settled in West Virginia.
“Before he went to Wheeling, he said he was never coming back here (to Sarnia),” she said.
But the community, while nice, didn’t feel like home, Southcott said.
“The beach and the lake do it for me,” he said with a laugh.
Southcott is the 25th family physician recruited by the Physician Recruitment Taskforce of Sarnia-Lambton.
He began working full time in December alongside Dr. John Bartlett and Dr. Gert Schlebush at the London Road Diagnostic Clinic.
Southcott and Jay have a baby boy they’ve named Jay. Having come full circle, the city’s newest doctor said Sarnia is a good place to raise a family and practice medicine.
“The same opportunities that I had here,” he said, “if I could recreate them for this guy then he would have as good a chance to be as happy as me.”