The Sun Country Health Region (SCHR) has welcomed 15 new physicians to the region during the past 12 months, according to numbers supplied in late January.
Residents of Estevan, Carlyle, Redvers, Arcola, Oxbow, Kipling and Weyburn have all benefited from the recruitment efforts of their local communities, the Saskdocs program and the SCHR. All of those groups have worked in partnership over the past two years to recruit these doctors.
“As a result of this successful work, more residents will be able to connect regularly to a family doctor rather than visiting the region’s emergency rooms or traveling out of the region for their health care needs,” said SCHR CEO Marga Cugnet.
Retention is the next big step in this process. Keeping the doctors who have arrived is as important as recruitment was two years ago. For that part, the region must rely, to a great extent, on the local communities.
Saskdocs' province-wide survey last year indicated that a work-life balance is the most important issue for new physicians coming to Saskatchewan. About 45 per cent of doctors cite an imbalance between their work and their family life as the reason they would choose to leave their practice. About 48 per cent said they would leave specifically for family reasons.
In contrast, income was an issue for only four per cent of departing doctors.
The result of that Saskdocs survey means the region must continue to keep the number of doctors at an optimum level, so that each doctor is required to work on-call in a hospital emergency department a minimum number of evenings and weekends, said Cugnet.
“It also means that local communities need to extend a friendly hand to the new doctors and his/her family members, include them in activities, and help them integrate into the area and become settled,” said Cugnet.
The Saskdocs survey showed that in the past, 54 per cent of new doctors coming into the province received little community help, like assistance to find housing and transportation, or education for their children. They believe a community orientation to facilities and services would help them feel welcome and encourage them to stay.
The SCHR says it is fortunate that communities recognized these needs and provide support.
“That kind of information is a powerful tool to help all the agencies involved in recruitment to stay focused and remain successful,” says Mrs. Cugnet.
Recruitment for more doctors and nurse practitioners for communities which are still short will continue in the upcoming year.