November 16, 2012 - 12:33 PM
Kamloops has taken important strides in recruiting physicians for the past four years, but challenges still lie ahead.
Kamloops has had to get creative to attract medical doctors to the area. Interior Health Authority recruits physicians online, through medical journals and at conferences across the country and has even partnered with some unlikely sources within the community.
"We are reaching out and partnering with Venture Kamloops and divisions of family practice," said Interior Health Authority recruitment leader Shelley Wolfson.
Venture Kamloops is better known for attracting economic development, but the goals are quite similar. Venture Kamloops markets the local lifestyle, which happens to be one of the most important factors for physicians to consider in relocating. Wolfson says the organizations can pool resources for more efficient recruitment and has been improving, compared to other places.
"It's much harder to place (general practitioners) in more rural communities," she said. "Kamloops is one of our more successful communities.”
A report released Nov. 15 by the Canadian Institute for Health Information revealed a steady four-year increase in physicians in the Thompson Cariboo region. It shows 246 family medicine physicians and 132 specialists in the region. In 2011, the same report showed 244 family physicians and 130 specialists. They have gone up steadily since 2008 when there were just 227 family physicians and 119 specialists.
Despite the improved numbers, Wolfson said there is still work to do.
"There's a demand not just in Kamloops but all across Canada for family practitioners," she said.
Each of those communities has the same needs, so Kamloops needs to remain competitive. Just this week, the community of Enderby was shocked to learn that one of its two doctors is moving to Saskatchewan. It had four doctors this summer. It's only going to get more difficult as demand rises with an aging population and as doctors themselves look to retirement.
"As the baby boomers age, it's becoming more prevalent," she said. "This is a worldwide emerging trend. In the next three to five years it's going to become increasingly more difficult."
— Jessica Wallace
News from © InfoTel News Ltd, 2012