A unique physician scholarship program is off to a great start. Dr. Craig Ferguson of Bridgewater and Dr. William Harvey of Elmsdale are the first recipients of the Dr. E. Bruce Elliott Memorial Scholarship. The scholarships allowed them to attend intensive medical education courses in environmental medicine this spring. Ferguson was the principal recipient of the scholarship. He decided to apply because "I see people in my practice with symptoms that don't fit conventional medicine, where there's no diagnosis." He found the five day course provided "so many new concepts about health and how our bodies function that its almost like a new field."
Ferguson rates the teaching as "very
good", the content as "very useful" and says it is already proving helpful,
although it will take a while to integrate everything he learned. Harvey
attended a five day course last year, and used his scholarship to
NSAEHA past president Frank Metzger feels the program is sorely needed. "In my time as president I saw first hand the desperate need for treatment for environmental illnesses," Metzger said. "I have seen how completely this disease can devastate people's lives. The most frequent enquiry received by the NSAEHA over the years has been 'Where can I find a doctor who understands my illness?'"
The shortage of specially trained doctors in this field became even more severe with the death in 1999 of Dr. Bruce Elliott. Hundreds of his environmentally ill patients still have no doctor to take his place.
The scholarship was started by the Nova Scotia Allergy and Environmental Health Association (NSAEHA) to address this shortage. Karen Robinson, chair of the NSAEHA Treatment Committee was a driving force behind the scholarship program. "We hope to increase the number of doctors trained in this field," Robinson says, "and we also hope to make more doctors aware that these courses exist." The courses are organized by the American Academy of Environmental Medicine (AAEM) and are accredited by American and Canadian medical bodies. The AAEM provides the only training in this field available in North America.
Robinson credits the project's success to support from many sources. Air Canada and the AAEM made generous donations, as did Burgess CanPlan Travel and the Halifax Camerata Singers who donated CDs which are being sold to benefit the fund. There were also many individual donors. Robinson hopes donations will continue. "The program will continue, and we hope to be able to support other doctors in getting this valuable training," she said.
The sooner environmental health problems are diagnosed and treated, the more likely a person is to regain their health. The Dr. E. Bruce Elliott Scholarship is an innovative tool to help Nova Scotian children and adults find physicians who can help them on the road back to health.
Donations for the fund can be sent
Donations can also be made through the United Way by specifying the NSAEHA Elliott Scholarship under donor options.
Information on the AAEM courses can
be found at www.aaem.com or by faxing