How Sask. Does the medical association retain doctors? – Discover

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a lot of strain on the health care system in Saskatchewan and across the country, forcing workers out of the industry or relocating elsewhere.

These pressures are being felt by residents of Swift Current and across the province as some struggle to find a family or personal doctor due to physicians leaving or an inability to accommodate new patients.

John Gjevre, president of the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA), says there will always be a turnover of doctors, with some leaving for larger cities in the province or leaving Saskatchewan altogether.

“In general things have been pretty much stable in the sense that yes, we have people leaving but we also have people arriving,” says Gjevre. “The most significant change is of course at this time of year because we have new residents who have graduated from training programs here and elsewhere and who may be moving within the province or out of this one.

A 2020-2021 Annual Statistical Report from the Medical Services Directorate showed a total of 15 GPs in Estevan last year, two more than the previous year.

In terms of retaining physicians in the province who have graduated or are looking to relocate elsewhere in Saskatchewan, the SMA has programs in place.

“We provide scholarships to medical students to encourage them to stay in the province. We also have a retention program that provides a small financial bonus for people who want to stay in the province for the long term.

The SMA has a retention fund that provides financial rewards to physicians who practice in the province for an extended period. They must live in Saskatchewan, be licensed with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan, and provide insured clinical services in the province.

Although the SMA and the province have retention programs in place, it is hard to compete with big cities like Vancouver and Montreal.

“It’s a wonderful province with lots of beautiful natural attractions and great people, but when a lot of doctors train in big cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Montreal, to some extent we just don’t get noticed on the national scene.

The association also offers a bursary to family medicine residents. This is granted to residents who agree to serve rural, regional or northern Saskatchewan communities.

“We want all members of the public to have a health care facility close to them so they can see a doctor where they are rather than having to travel long distances for health care. »

Successful applicants receive a scholarship in the amount of $25,000 per year for up to three years. After obtaining their licensure, Fellows are required to provide full-time medical services in rural, northern, or regional areas of Saskatchewan.

Gjevre alluded to a family doctor crisis in Saskatchewan and across the country. In 2019, Statistics Canada reported that approximately 4.6 million Canadians did not have regular access to a primary care provider.

The Canadian Medical Association said in a statement in May that in 2020 just over 1,400 family physicians left the postgraduate training system to enter practice. Between 2015 and 2021, the percentage of medical graduates choosing family medicine increased from 38.5% to 31.8%. The average age of family physicians today is 49.

Saskatchewan is trying to do its part to retain and recruit family physicians to the province. In their 2022-23 budget, they included an additional $3.5 million to expand and improve recruitment and retention programs.

The Department of Health has increased the number of medical residency spaces through the University of Saskatchewan from 120 to 128. Swift Current and Moose Jaw have been included to be training sites for postgraduate medical residents, which includes family medicine. Thanks to the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment, 257 additional physicians are currently providing services in the province.

A statement from the Ministry of Health mentioned that this year’s budget included the development of a new independent agency dedicated to the recruitment and retention of health human resources, including doctors.

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