Pam Rauscher recently moved to Assiniboia, Sask. from the mountainous community of Mackenzie, B.C to take a job as a combined laboratory x-ray technologist (CLXT) at Assiniboia Union Hospital (AUH). When asked for her impressions of Saskatchewan about six months after moving to the farming community in the southwest region of the province, she chuckled.

“It’s really not as flat as some people say it is,’’ says Rauscher, 29. “I go to Rockglen (50 km south of Assiniboia) to do blood collections and those rolling hills. . . . It’s quite lovely down there. It’s really something else.’’

Rauscher arrived in Assiniboia in March 2016 after spending the first six years of her CLXT career at a six-bed hospital in Mackenzie, about 200 km north of Prince George. AUH, in Saskatchewan’s Five Hills Health Region, has a total of 38 acute, long term and palliative beds and a “tight-knit lab/x-ray group,’’ says Rauscher. “It’s a completely different work environment compared to where I came from and I really like it. It’s also a lot busier than Mackenzie, which I really like, too.’’

Originally from Barrhead in northwest Alberta, Rauscher signed on to a career working in rural communities when she enrolled in the CLXT course at an Alberta technical institute. She says the CLXT course was designed to help rural health centres provide many medical lab and X-ray services using one staff member instead of two. She learned of the job at AUH through a posting on the CLXT’s Facebook page and researched the town, health region and hospital online before applying for it. She chose to visit the area before making her final decision and discovered a town and surrounding community that reminded her of Barrhead. “They could be twins,’’ she says, adding help she received for moving costs was an important incentive.

In addition to enjoying her challenging and stimulating work, Rauscher has been touring Saskatchewan to see what her new home province has to offer. So far, she says, she’s been very impressed. She enjoyed her visit to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park in the southwest corner of the province. The park features the highest point of land in Canada between the Rockies and the Labrador Peninsula and its stalwart lodgepole pines, found nowhere else in Saskatchewan, suggest a mountain rather than prairie ecosystem. “And in the summer we went up north of Meadow Lake, camping,’’ she says. “And we went ‘Oh, there’s trees everywhere!’’ More than half of Saskatchewan is boreal forest and tourism literature promotes the province’s 100,000 lakes, rivers and streams.

Rauscher says the Town of Assiniboia has its own surprises, in particular the Shurniak Art Gallery, an exceptional and large assortment of Canadian and international art collected by owner Bill Shurniak during his travels around the globe. The gallery is Shurniak’s way of giving back to the area where he grew up. Among the handsome facility’s many outstanding works is a collection of paintings by Canada’s famous Group of Seven.

Rauscher sounds a little embarrassed when she admits she’d never been to Saskatchewan prior to visiting Assiniboia. But what’s she’s discovered in Saskatchewan’s rural areas as well as the capital City of Regina and historic City of Moose Jaw is precisely what her mother told her about the province. “She said everyone in Saskatchewan is friendly and helpful. And now that I’m here, I have to say the same thing. These are some of the friendliest people I’ve ever met, and I’ve been to a few different places. I’ve travelled quite a bit.’’

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