Fran Duck has set her sights on retirement after a career as a medical office assistant spanning 35 years. (Courtesy Fran Duck)

Fran Duck has set her sights on retirement after a career as a medical office assistant spanning 35 years. (Courtesy Fran Duck)

A career of caring coming to an end in View Royal

Medical office assistant Fran Duck’s connection to families spans generations

It speaks volumes about the kind of person you are when the folks you work for affectionately refer to you as their boss.

After a career as a medical office assistant that began in 1982 and includes more than 20 years with Doctors Keeler, Young and McLurg Family Practice, Fran Duck is ready to retire at the end of the month.

“Fran has helped thousands of patients and hundreds of families in the West Shore during her career,” noted Dr. Vanessa Young. “She’s been here since before day one, a rock-solid colleague.”

Young, who has worked with Duck since she began family practice in 1996, said there are a number of reasons for the tongue in cheek references to Duck as “the boss.”

“Fran keeps the operation afloat. She’s always got a smile on her face and is willing to go the extra mile for folks. She’s firm when it’s needed, but always incredibly kind and compassionate,” Young explained.

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”Other staff have come and gone, but Fran’s been here the whole time, and the physicians and patients really appreciate that continuity. We have several patients that are four generations of family, and Fran knows them all. We know that she is excited to be moving on to the next phase of her life and wish her all the best. Our patient family is already missing her.”

Duck, who has set Sept. 30 as her last day, said although she initially “fell into the job” in 1982, once she started, she never thought about leaving.

“I like the connections and the continuity with patients,” she said. “Many of the patients started as children, and you watch them grow up and have families of their own. That’s really cool. I’ve been fortunate to work with three doctors leading up to retirement who treated me with kindness and respect.”

“I’ve been really touched by the calls, cards and emails from patients who heard I was retiring,” she added.

While she has been thinking seriously about retirement for about five years, her husband Ivan’s decision to retire from the Department of National Defence in July was a major factor.

“I decided it was time, too,” said Duck, who grew up on the West Shore in Belmont Park and lives in the Happy Valley neighbourhood. Future plans include more trips in the couple’s motorhome and more camping.

“We plan to put the ATV to good use,” said the mother of grown children, Julie and Scott. “I’m also looking forward to spoiling our grandchildren Athena, Sophie, Josie, Reid and Libby.”

Dr. Steve Keeler said that medical office staff, including medical office assistants, registered nurses and licensed practical nurses are often overlooked for the support they provide to patients and the community.

“Their advocacy role in patient care is vital, from a supportive ear for a distressed patient, expediting investigations, co-ordinating care,” Keeler noted. “Fran has consistently taken on these challenges.”

Regarding Duck’s decision to retire, Keeler joked that he’s “in denial, and trying to make her work life as miserable as possible before the end of September.”

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rick.stiebel@goldstreamgazette.com