1. Person-Centred, High-Quality, Safe and Sustainable Health and Wellness for Nova Scotians

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Recruiting and retaining physicians

Archie Stewart

Recruitment and retention of family physicians and specialists was a key priority for NSHA in 2017-18 with a target to recruit 50 family doctors and 50 specialists. In 2017-18, 103 physicians started practice in Nova Scotia and 53 additional offers were accepted for start dates beyond April 1, 2018. In 2018-19, we are aiming to recruit 89 family doctors and 65 specialists.

NSHA also embarked on its first strategic physician recruitment plan in 2017. This involved a formalized presence for recruitment that included:

  • • a new targeted focus on international markets in the United Kingdom (U.K.) and Ireland
  • • increased resources for site visits and relocation funds
  • • the initiation of a physician recruitment and retention committee with membership from physicians and stakeholders across the province
  • • presence at local, national and international recruitment events

In summer 2017, NSHA worked with an external agency to create a provincial physician recruitment marketing strategy and brand. More than medicine+ identifies motivations to live and work in Nova Scotia: work life balance, affordable living and a strong connection to the professional and local community.

NSHA worked with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia and the Nova Scotia Departments of Health and Wellness and Immigration to foster partnerships that will help support and facilitate recruitment of physicians now and into the future. In October 2017, representatives from the province traveled to the BMJ Careers fair in England and received a large welcome from potential recruits. In January, the province introduced an immigration stream to fast track international physicians recruited to Nova Scotia.

This has resulted the recruitment of several doctors from the United Kingdom and United States and many more attending site visits across the province from these areas. We are encouraged by this activity and expect this number to continue to rise as we continue our international recruitment efforts.

NSHA worked with Department of Health and Wellness (DHW) on the new medical physician (MD) process to improve flexibility and create a provincial vacancy pool for new family physicians. The two also collaborated on the improvement and extension of physician incentives both at the NSHA and DHW level. To help fill the gap left by the Clinician Assessment for Practice Program (CAPP), NSHA co-ordinated the development of a Practice Ready Assessment proposal that will provide a pathway to practice for foreign trained physicians. This program was accepted by the province and will begin in 2019.

Our recruiters are reporting positive feedback from physicians about these incentives and suggest that these will be helpful in our work to recruit locally and internationally.

Read: Come Check out the Valley: Family Residency Program showcases collaborative effort