Looking back on his 45-plus-year career in family medicine, Winkler's Dr. Don Klassen said each day of his career hasn't always been the greatest day going to work, but he took the challenges that arose as obstacles needing a solution to be found.

A champion of rural medicine and a well-respected leader, Dr. Klassen has received the Physician Emeritus award from Southern Health-Santé Sud. The honorary designation is conferred upon retirees, semi-retirees, or those approaching retirement to recognize their contributions and accomplishments over their professional careers as physicians or surgeons within the health region.

Klassen grew up in Winkler and has practiced medicine for over 45 years in the Winkler and Morden area. Dr. Klassen said he's always enjoyed looking after patients, whether it's in the office, the ER, or the operating room (OR).

"Of course, often people are sleeping in the OR, but you get to see them ahead of time when they're anxious about their surgery and you get to see them afterward when they're recovering. And I really have enjoyed looking after patients, and now I'm an old guy. But even when I was quite a young guy, I always enjoyed speaking with elderly folks. I remember doing rounds in the early years at Salem Home, and it's a joy to look after people. And then if you can also help them get better, well, that kind of multiplies itself."

GoldenWest Radio and PembinaValleyOnline.com reporter Robyn Wiebe asked Dr. Klassen what advice he would give someone wanting to start their career in health care, and want to make an impact in a world where a lot of negativity exists around medicine and the health care system

"One of the more important things is to try and figure out what kind of a person you are, or I am. It's one thing to say that you want to help people and that's why you go into medicine, but you really need to think quite a bit about what does that mean? And how does that translate into everyday? I can't say that I've thought philosophically like that every day of my life. Clearly not, but I have tried to bring that kind of attitude to my interactions with people. And I say the same to young docs now. Figure out who you are. Why do you want to do this? And then get going."

Klassen said it's always an honour to be nominated by your peers, and be recognized in this way. 

Also known for his good sense of humour, Klassen said if I can put a smile on people's faces, that's a good thing. 

- With files from Robyn Wiebe -

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