Doctors wanted: N.S. recruitment office says interest is growing
Nova Scotia's newly launched campaign to recruit more doctors seems to be picking up steam.
The government office tasked with the job is now fully functional, and the man in charge says there's already been significant interest from doctors and medical students.
"We have heard from a large number of people across the country and from other countries who are interested in seeking employment in Nova Scotia as physicians," says Dr. Kevin Orrell, the CEO of the province's Office of Health Care Professionals Recruitment.
They've heard from specialists, too, he says, although some are still training, and it's difficult to say when they'd start arriving.
"And we're reaching out on a case-by-case basis at this point to contact people and to inform them that we do have an opportunity for them to travel to Nova Scotia and to work here," he said.
In the meantime, the group that speaks for Nova Scotia Doctors says initial talks with the recruitment office have gone well, but it'll take more than just money to attract and retain more physicians.
"We have to think about how we're going to recruit these people and settle them into a community," said Doctors NS president Dr. Heather Johnson from her office in Bridgewater, N.S.
"We have to think about what their families need -- the people they bring with them. How we're going to engage them in the community and make them feel part of this community?"
Johnson says she and others are doing what they can to support the initiative.
"We need to think positively about what could possibly come from this kind of an effort," she said.
All over the province, front-line doctors are feeling the pressure of the shortage, which has been exacerbated by COVID-19.
"Our wait time, unfortunately, for routine care right now, is about six weeks, which is almost unheard-of for us," said family physician Dr. Katherine Quackenbush at her office in Tantallon, N.S.
"That's what we're dealing with right now because there are so many people who need to be seen. We do have urgent visits available every day, but those gets filled very quickly as well," she added.
The situation is a bit unusual for Brazilian-born Nathalia Matias, waiting to be seen at a clinic in Clayton Park on Monday.
"I'm used to a hybrid system in Brazil," she said.
"So whenever we need something, we can just go to the private as well, so as the public."