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Recruitment success means more family doctors for province


By Sharon Gray

Ross Wiseman, provincial minister of health and community services, visited the medical school July 11 to announce that ongoing recruitment efforts for physicians by the province are netting big results.

“Over the next few months, 17 new family physicians will begin practice in our province, with a good proportion of them in rural areas,” said Mr. Wiseman. “This tremendous recruitment success is a result of our government’s steadfast commitment to, and significant investments in, recruiting physicians. Now, the people of this province will see the benefits.”

The 17 new family practice physicians will be located in Happy Valley-Goose Bay (two), Port aux Basques (one), Baie Verte (one), Bonne Bay (one), Twillingate (one), Gander (one), Spaniard’s Bay (one), Paradise (one), Conception Bay South (one), Mount Pearl (one), St. John’s (five), and Torbay (one). All of these physicians have received family practice bursaries, a primary recruitment tool for the province which sees a physician providing one year of service for every $25,000 bursary received. These bursaries are part of the provincial government’s $6 million annual investment in physician recruitment and retention initiatives.

The minister of health was joined in the news conference by Dr. James Rourke, dean of medicine at Memorial.

“Our collaborative efforts have been successful in securing these many family physicians for placement in communities throughout the province. Our Office of Physician Recruitment has been working hard and I am confident that we will continue to build on this success. The expansion planned for our medical school will enable us to train more medical students in Newfoundland and Labrador to become doctors to practice here and this will help build a strong and stable physician work force for Newfoundland and Labrador.”

Mr. Wiseman said the government’s bursary program is obviously effective. He also praised the worked done by the medical school.

“The Faculty of Medicine does tremendous work in producing skilled physicians while also providing excellent opportunities for medical students to experience practice in rural areas right here in Newfoundland and Labrador. In fact, just a few months ago, the faculty was recognized with a national award by the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada for its success in placing graduates in rural family medicine programs for their residencies.”

The minister said the provincial government understands the tremendous value in training more residents of Newfoundland and Labrador to build up the province’s workforce of physicians.

“We know that over 80 per cent of Memorial graduates who are licensed to practice medicine stay in the Newfoundland and Labrador health care system. Over 59 per cent of our family physicians are Memorial graduates. It is also interesting to note that approximately 40 per cent of Memorial medical graduates grew up in a rural community. These numbers support our recent Budget 2008 announcement of an initial $4 million investment to expand the MUN medical school. Based on established trends, we know that this will positively impact the supply of physicians for our province and therefore, further enhance our achievements in physician recruitment and retention.”