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Jim Corkal's Profile

My Role
Orthopedics entails caring for people who have diseases of muscles and joints, sports injuries, infections and musculoskeletal trauma. On a typical day, I come into the office and respond to emails and messages before heading up to the ward to see the patients I’ve operated on. Afterwards, I’ll see if there are any patients who have come through the emergency room and decide whether they need surgery. In addition to this I usually spend 3 – 4 hours in the clinic where I see people on an elective basis.

Each year we spend 10 days in Fort Smith, 12 days in Hay River and 15 days in Inuvik. We see people to determine whether they need surgery or not and whether they need to come to Yellowknife for the surgery or if it’s a simple procedure that can be done in the community.

Career Path

I’m originally from Northern Ontario which is very similar to the NWT – where I grew up, the trees are a bit bigger and the lakes a bit smaller, but you could look out the window here and there and it would look very similar. I earned my Undergraduate Degree in Biochemistry at Queens University in Kingston then spent 4 years at medical school at Queen’s University which I followed with 5 years of residency at the University of Ottawa.

In this line of work the schooling never ends - it’s a profession that changes 10% per year. If you’re going to do this type of work you will always be learning something new. In order to stay up to date on new techniques we often travel to different educational courses.

Best Part

I like the fact that people come in with sore knees and sore hips and we’re able to fix them. We give them new hips and new knees and they’re able to get up and be pain free – sometimes for the first time in 10 or 15 years. This is an incredibly rewarding feature of the job. The patients in the north are great to work with and very friendly, being able to help them and work with them is a pleasure.

Northern Fun
In the winter I like to travel to Whistler or Banff to go cross country skiing and downhill skiing. I’m a very active person so I spend a lot of time exercising throughout the year.My wife and I do indoor rowing and have been to competitions around the world. My summers are very active – I spend time on the lake in my boat, and go out camping, fishing, and bike riding.

Memorable Moment
A little Dene elder came in after I had fixed her hip. She didn’t speak English so I treated her with the interpreter in the room. I was showing her x-rays and explaining how everything was looking really good, meanwhile the interpreter was translating back and forth. When the interpreter finished explaining they both started laughing and laughing. So I said, what are you laughing about? And the interpreter, pointing to the woman, said: “I want to know where my...(backside)...is!”