Men of Vancouver (MofV) is a monthly editorial featuring the most stylish and professional men in Vancouver. Style by Sarai recently interviewed Dr. Paul Gross for this exclusive in-depth photo editorial.
What do you do for work?
I’m a family physician with a practice focused mainly on men’s health and HIV. My full-time practice is at Spectrum Health, a well-respected multi-disciplinary primary care clinic in downtown Vancouver that has a standard mix of patients but also a strong focus on providing care to people living with HIV. I joined the group over two years ago and I feel very fortunate to work with such an outstanding team of professionals and to have the real privilege of providing care to my patients.
I also work at Vancouver Native Health Society (VNHS) on East Hastings, which provides a full range of health care services to mainly First Nations, Inuit, Metis peoples, and people living in the Downtown Eastside. I’ve been working there for 5 years and definitely feel a strong connection to my colleagues and to the people of the community.
Finally, I work periodically at St. Paul’s Hospital on the HIV Service and the Family Practice Ward. This is a fun challenge to keep me on my toes in terms of hospital medicine and teaching residents and medical students.
What made you choose this career path?
I had always been interested in the health care field, but I originally wanted to follow the path of becoming a sports medicine physiotherapist. Half way through my undergraduate degree in Kinesiology at SFU, I met an amazing mentor who encouraged me to pursue medicine. It was just the push I needed at the perfect time in the right direction. Since I started medical school almost ten years ago, I’ve almost never felt like what I do is “work”. As the saying goes, “do what you love and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
What does a typical work week look like for you?
I have made it a priority to try and find the elusive “work/life balance” especially since the birth of my beautiful daughter Acacia 4 months ago. I like to start the week out at the gym with a great workout. I consider my minimum of Monday-Wednesday-Friday workouts like a job. It’s really what fuels my energy for the week. Afterwards, I head to my office at Spectrum to get the week rolling. I spend 4 days a week there and I am at Vancouver Native Health 1-2 evenings a week. I try to keep my weekends on call to a minimum as I spent too many of them working in previous years. So, 1 weekend a month I’ll work either at the hospital or on call for Spectrum Health or Vancouver Native Health.
Has your career involved any travelling abroad?
Yes, in fact this has been a big part of my career. In the summer of 2005, as a medical student, I did a clinical elective in Malawi where I was first exposed to the tragic impact of HIV and poverty in Africa. I came back totally driven to continue pursuing a career in HIV and global health. In 2009, after completing my residency at St. Paul’s Hospital, I did a post-graduate year of training in global health when I returned to Malawi to work with an organization called Dignitas International. Dignitas is a Canadian-based organization working closely with Malawians to build a more sustainable health care system. I am really looking forward to my next opportunity to head back to Africa.
What type of community work are you a part of in Vancouver?
When I came back from Malawi, I felt the need to connect in a more meaningful way with the Downtown Eastside community and my patients at Vancouver Native Health. Having had a few good discussions with patients and colleagues there, we decided to start a health initiative for men called The DUDES Club. Since August 2010, we have hosted biweekly meetings of 50-60 men at Vancouver Native Health where we offer free haircuts, a healthy dinner and an opportunity for men to seek health care services and learn about their own health. Through interactive dialogue around men’s health, the guys are able to build a sense of solidarity and brotherhood and support each other to lead healthier lives. Some of the men have improved their engagement with health care staff, found better housing, overcome addiction and past trauma in part as a result of the work of our group. It’s a special feeling to see something as fundamental and powerful as positive relationships make such a difference. This project has become a real passion of mine and this unique model is getting lots of interest from provincial and national organizations.
How did you get involved with VNHS and where do you see it in 5 years’ time?
I originally became involved during my residency program at St. Paul’s Hospital and did my first rotation at VNHS in 2007. In many ways, this place feels like home to me and I’ve developed such meaningful relationships with many of the staff and patients there. VNHS continues to grow and offer dynamic programs with a rare ability to stretch funding dollars to effectively serve as many people as possible. In 5 years’ time, VNHS will probably be doing the same amazing work it does now, and hopefully with even more funding and resources at its disposal.
DOMINION BARBERS | 214 Abbott Street, Vancouver
Where do you go for a haircut in Vancouver?
I’ve been going to Martin Rivard at Dominion/Killjoy Barbers for over a year and a half now. When you find the right barber, you just don’t switch. I first started going to Martin at Dominion and followed him when he moved to Killjoy. He’s a great barber and a passionate entrepreneur, plus he’s a super chill guy from Quebec so we spend most of our time speaking French!
How did you hear about Dominion Barbers?
Actually, I was walking around Gastown one day and noticed their shop. I liked the decor and concept so I stopped by and booked a cut. I was really lucky as Martin gave me my first cut there and told me about the concept and his passion for the city of Vancouver.
What do you like most about going to Dominion Barbers and what makes them different from other barbers you’ve been to in the past?
Martin has developed a really unique concept with the blend of licensed bars and the old-school barber shop experience. As a guy, you feel really comfortable coming early and getting in on the discussions ranging from sports to music to politics. In fact, last Christmas I booked out Dominion barbers with a group of 4 friends and we each had haircuts and hot shaves while having a few drinks. It was a great warm-up to a night out in Gastown.
RAINIER PROVISIONS | 2 West Cordova Street, Vancouver
How did you hear about Rainier Provision?
I was actually on my way to work one day and noticed Rainier Provisions had just recently opened their doors. I went in and grabbed a dinner to go. It was delicious and a totally great value. But even more than the food and the fresh, hipster-bent decor, I was completely impressed by their commitment to supporting the Downtown Eastside community. In fact the Heather Hospitality Group has a long track record of giving back to the community. Makes you feel much better about eating great food in a cool, renaissance location.
What do you recommend everyone to try?
Rainier does a killer roast daily often featuring Yorkshire puddings. It’s soul food in a neighborhood with lots of soul. They also make really tasty salads, the kale caesar is awesome!
When you’re out for a night in downtown, where do you like to go?
My preferences are very much driven by what I knew growing up in Montreal and my time there during medical school. For that reason, I’m naturally attracted to Gastown and Main Street/Mount Pleasant and I can honestly say the city has really benefited from a rebirth of these areas since 2010 or so. The restaurants and bars of those two hoods are definitely my favorite spots to head out.
URBAN WINERY | 55 Dunlevy Ave, Vancouver
What is it about Vancouver Urban Winery that you like most?
I really like the concept of places like Vancouver Urban Winery. It’s bringing a sense of class to an industrial area of town, right in the heart of the Downtown Eastside/Railtown district. Plus, the idea of bringing some of BC’s finest wines on tap to Vancouverites is just fine by me! Brilliant concept which has been picked up by places all over the city, especially Tap & Barrel.
The thing I love the most is the decor. The refurbished industrial feel with the casks and barrels laid out in the large open room with exposed brick and beams is genius. It’s a great place for events like weddings and Christmas parties. The decor really drives the ambiance. When you’re there you just really want to drink good wine!
Red or White wine?
I would say it all depends on the moment, the food and, of course, the company. That said, I tend to prefer red wine. For the past four years, we’ve had a monthly wine night with really close friends. We are all very passionate about wine and it’s a great reason to get together each month. We’ve covered pretty much all major wine regions of the world, and many of them twice and have made some great discoveries in that time. We’re more focused now on single varietals and sub-regions. It’s amazing to see how your appreciation for wine grows over time.
Top 3 Favorite Wines?
This is a really tough question, so instead of breaking it down in to 3 single wines, I’ll break it into my favorite wines from my 3 favorite regions. Plus, if you love wine the answer to this question evolves constantly. I would have had a totally different answer 3 years ago.
1)USA: Altamura, Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa. Just a beautiful, elegant expression of Napa Cab without being over-the-top. Force Majeure, Rhone-style Syrah, Washington State. Insane quality from this relatively new producer just south of us. This wine is getting ridiculously high scores, competing with some of the very best from France.
2)Italy: Basically any great Brunello, my favorite being Il Forteto del Drago because we shared it with very close friends during a memorable trip to Tuscany in 2008 when I proposed to my wife. I also love a great Super Tuscan but you have to be willing to drop some cash on a few drops of heaven.
3)BC: My favorites here come from Le Vieux Pin/La Stella, Laughing Stock and Pentage. I would have to say my favorite BC varietal is Syrah, but the Maestoso (100% Merlot) from La Stella is a very special wine.
Outside of your busy work schedule, what do you like to do with your spare time?
In May my beautiful wife Carolyn and I had an adorable baby girl named Acacia. She has brought such joy and happiness to our lives. So, it goes without saying that much of my spare time is spent with family enjoying the great things this city has to offer. We’ll often go for nice long walks in Mount Pleasant or to Granville Island with our bulldog Penelope. I also spend lots of time with close friends, many of whom have been like brothers and sisters for fifteen years now since we all met in residence at SFU. Finally, life is incomplete to me without sports and fitness so I definitely focus on maintaining a regular routine of activities whether it’s a long ride on my road bike in the summer, a tough climb on The Grind or a great workout in the gym.
What does style mean to you?
Style is a personal expression of creativity, class and attention to detail. I was exposed to this growing up in Montreal and just kept developing an interest in quality clothes and well-polished looks. In my opinion, the most stylish people in the world are the Italians; they just make it look so effortless. Don’t get me wrong, I’m really comfortable in flip-flops, shorts and a light V-neck but style means taking your outfit to the next level and constantly evolving while staying true to core principles that define you as a person.
THANKS DR. PAUL GROSS, FOR BEING A STYLISH MAN IN VANCOUVER!
DR. PAUL GROSS
MEN OF VANCOUVER TEAM
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Men of Vancouver is a monthly editorial featuring the most stylish and professional men in Vancouver. MofV is currently being released exclusively on Vancity Buzz.