Alumni Profile: Rajbir Klair, MD

Primary care physician helps keep international travelers healthy

Dr. Rajbir “Raj” Klair (’08) is a family physician with a special interest in Travel Medicine and Addictions. Around six months ago, he moved from his home city of Toronto to Surrey, British Columbia to launch the VeraLife Health Centre, a comprehensive health center that will offer a variety of healthcare services under one roof.

Klair attended the American University of the Caribbean School of Medicine (AUC) after working as an occupational first aid attendant at a racetrack and a rapid transit railroad attendant; and having co-founded a first aid training school with his father. “I was very much influenced by the adrenaline rush of helping people and dealing with acute injuries,” he says of the path that brought him to medicine. As a family medicine practitioner, he says he continues to experience that flood of excitement, noting, “It is never a dull day at the office.” These days, Klair finds it particularly gratifying to help people prevent and manage the health problems associated with international travel.

Most recently, Klair cared for a patient who had just returned from a trip to the Amazon, he says. The patient displayed some “odd marks similar to puncture wounds on his legs down his shins.” He previously had been treated for cellulitis, a common bacterial skin infection, however Klair suspected his rash was something more unusual: a parasitic botfly infection, which is spread by mosquito in Central and South America.

Klair referred the patient to a specialist and made him an appointment for the next day. Unfortunately, the patient missed the appointment and resumed his business travel, only to see the botfly larvae hatch two days later. “I happened to be at the clinic when he called from another province,” says Klair. “I calmed him down and arranged for him to see someone there and have the botflies removed.”

Klair has been able to draw upon his own international travel to care for his patients. The experience he gained in Butare, Rwanda while completing his residency at the University of Toronto proves to be more and more relevant as he treats his patients.  “There was a broad mix of people from all walks of life who have some really amazing and interesting stories,” says Klair about his trip to Africa.

Klair is also a faculty member at the University of British Columbia Department of Family Medicine. Previously, he was on the faculty at the University of Toronto Department of Family and Community Medicine.

He credits AUC for preparing him for all of his roles. “The intensity of the core curricula and dedication of highly-esteemed professors to help their students achieve the pinnacle of their gifts and talents have been particularly valuable,” he says. Most extraordinary, he says, was “being able to go to medical school in the Caribbean, just a five-minute walk from the beach, and get a great education and match into one of the top family medicine programs in Canada.”  He adds that he made a lasting network of friends and met people from all over the world while working diligently to achieve his goals.

“AUC is great place to attend school and with so much new development is only going to get better,” he says. “Being given the opportunity to become a physician and help the people closest to me as well as my patients is a real gift.”