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Friday, July 25, 2014
Saskatchewan

PHYSICIAN RECRUITMENT STRATEGY ANNOUNCED

Health Minister Don McMorris today announced a physician recruitment strategy that will enhance efforts to recruit and retain doctors and help build sustainable medical practices throughout the province.

"The supply of physicians in Saskatchewan has been a long standing concern for the people of the province and for the government," McMorris said. "This strategy features innovative initiatives that will boost the number of physicians working in the province and enhance access to high quality health care for Saskatchewan citizens."

Currently, Saskatchewan ranks ninth among the provinces and territories in the number of physicians as a percentage of population. The province has fewer family physicians than the national average and far fewer specialists. Saskatchewan also retains fewer of its medical graduates than most other provinces. The shortage of physicians is most acute in rural areas.

The government will commit $3.5 million to the strategy, which sets out clear objectives and builds on a number of programs already underway.

Specific initiatives include:

  • The development of a provincial physician recruitment agency;
  • A marketing campaign aimed at expatriate physicians and University of Saskatchewan medical students;
  • The enhancement of medical training to prepare graduates to practise in rural Saskatchewan;
  • Competitive compensation;
  • Programs to address lifestyle and professional support issues;
  • The enhancement of the physician application and licensure process; and
  • The development of a Saskatchewan-based program to assess foreign-trained physicians.

McMorris said the marketing campaign will be among the first initiatives to be implemented. It will utilize popular social media such as Facebook, YouTube and Twitter to sell Saskatchewan to physicians and medical students.

"We need to be aggressive and innovative if we are to succeed in attracting more physicians to Saskatchewan and convincing more of our medical graduates to set up their practises in the province," McMorris said. "It will take the combined efforts of the government, regional health authorities, physicians, the University of Saskatchewan's College of Medicine and communities to get the job done."

The physician recruitment strategy was developed after extensive consultations with key stakeholder groups.

"Saskatchewan physicians commend the Minister for acknowledging that action is needed now to ensure our patients have access to physician services," Saskatchewan Medical Association president Dr. Milo Fink said. "We have long heard from our colleagues how challenging their working conditions have become and look forward to working with the ministry to take effective action to address the shortages."

"We are quite excited the province is investing in a program that will help to better prepare medical students to practise in rural communities in Saskatchewan," Dean of the University of Saskatchewan's College of Medicine Dr. William Albritton said. "We are particularly pleased with the focus on expatriate Canadians and current students and residents at the University of Saskatchewan, in addition to foreign trained physicians. These initiatives will enrich the learning experience of our students and assist in the recruitment and retention of Canadian physicians in rural areas."

"This strategy supports the effort to ensure Saskatchewan physicians are qualified to provide safe, high quality care to their patients," Registrar of the College of Physicians of Surgeons of Saskatchewan Dr. Dennis Kendel said. "The College is committed to working with its partners on initiatives that will enhance the physicians assessment process."

The government has already taken action to bolster the supply of physicians in Saskatchewan. It is on track to ensuring the College of Medicine has 100 undergraduate seats and 120 residency positions by 2011. By September, there will be 24 additional undergraduate seats at the College of Medicine and 24 new residency positions.

In addition, the government has also made a significant investment in recruitment and retention, continuing education, bursaries and leave programs for physicians.

The Ministry of Health is currently negotiating a new collective agreement with the Saskatchewan Medical Association.

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For more information, contact:

Karen Hill
Health
Regina
Phone: 306-787-4083

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