Mental Health and Addictions Program in Eastern Zone making strides in recruitment, programs and initiatives

Photo from left to right: Dr. Olajumoke Subair, Clinical Assistant; Dr. Hussein Ibrahim; Dr. Sukhcharan Singh and Dr. Sunny Singh
Photo from left to right: Dr. Olajumoke Subair, Clinical Assistant; Dr. Hussein Ibrahim; Dr. Sukhcharan Singh and Dr. Sunny Singh

Recruitment Results

Through collaborative recruitment efforts by the Nova Scotia Health Mental Health and Addictions Program and Physician Services, the seasoned team of specialists providing care and support to children, adolescents and adults in the Eastern Zone (covering Cape Breton, Guysborough and Antigonish areas) has expanded through the hiring of new psychiatrists and clinical assistants. 

Four new adult psychiatrists recently joined the Mental Health and Addictions Program in the Sydney area: Dr. Sunny Singh, Dr. Hussein Ibrahim, Dr. Zaki Shullaih and Dr. Sukhcharan Singh.

“It has been a wonderful experience moving to Sydney, Nova Scotia. Happiness comes from the simple things in life. The peaceful lifestyle, beautiful nature, crisp ocean air and being near the coast are some of the things that have brought happiness to me here. My workplace in the psychiatry department of Cape Breton Regional Hospital has a positive and friendly environment with supportive colleagues. Overall, I think moving to Sydney has been a wonderful opportunity for growth and progress,” said Dr. Singh, who joined the team last year.

Dr. Kayla Choo Chong recently finished her psychiatry residency in the US. Soon after, she moved to Sydney and joined the Mental Health and Addictions Program’s child and adolescent team, providing psychiatry support at Cape Breton Regional Hospital. She joins Dr. Vhari James, who works partly in person at the hospital and partially virtual for Nova Scotia Health and IWK Health. 

“As a newcomer to Cape Breton, the community has been so supportive of this transition. The child and adolescent team is truly made up of compassionate people who try to collaborate and problem-solve daily. I feel so lucky to have found such diligent co-workers and, more importantly, empathetic, kind people,” said Dr. Choo Chong.

Two additional psychiatrists from the UK will join the program in July and August.

The Mental Health and Addictions Program is welcoming the new role of clinical assistants to its team including Olajumoke Subair at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital team and Dr. Saba Memon at St. Martha’s Regional Hospital. Clinical assistants provide psychiatry support to patients under the supervision of a licensed psychiatrist. They are an integral part of the team helping improve timely access and assessment in inpatient and urgent care settings. Three more clinical assistants will start working at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in April and May.

“Actively recruiting psychiatrists and clinicians is a welcomed focus of my role.  I enjoy meeting potential candidates at recruitment conferences and through direct contact to discuss the many attributes of working and living in rural communities: healthy work/life balance, supportive teams, and excellent care planning and delivery in vibrant communities in beautiful surroundings. Our recruitment efforts helped build a terrific team of dedicated colleagues,” said Dr. Faisal Rahman, Eastern Zone's Chief of Psychiatry, and the driving force in physician recruitment for the zone.

Dalhousie University Psychiatry Resident Pilot Program

In partnership with Dalhousie University’s Psychiatry Program, second-year psychiatry residents participate in a monthly rotation in Cape Breton Regional Hospital’s inpatient psychiatry unit.

Residents work closely with licensed psychiatrists on assessments, treatment and disposition plans, and medication management as part of their learning and education to become psychiatrists.  Cape Breton has been recognized as a distributed learning site – residents studying at Dalhousie University in Halifax learn and practice outside the urban core. Eastern Zone is welcoming nine residents rotating through a one-month rotation.

The second-year Dalhousie psychiatry residents will continue with Nova Scotia Health’s Eastern Zone, as the program has proved to be successful with positive feedback from residents, which is helping them to practice and gain experience in a less-urbanized setting with an opportunity for better recruitment of psychiatrists in the future in Cape Breton and rural communities.