Kamloops News

New physicians won't help much with Kamloops doctor shortage

KAMLOOPS - Six doctors are on their way to Kamloops to set up shop but it won't be any easier to find a family doctor, at least not yet.

Dr. Shirley Sze of the Thompson Region Division of Family Practice says the new doctors will help relieve some pressure but for the most part they are just filling the holes left by the recently retired doctors.

In total, six full time equivalent doctors have retired in the last two years and while three of the new physicians will immediately fill those roles others will be performing locum duties filling in for various doctors on leave or vacation until they decide whether or not to set up shop themselves.

“The recruitment of these physicians is a good start in addressing the needs of the region,” Sze says, “But there is still much work to be done.”

She explains the doctors performing locum duty haven't decided if they want to set up their own practice.

“A lot of new doctors want to settle in, get a feel for the community, feel confident in where to practice,” Sze says. “It could be a couple months or a couple years, but no one is going to (hang) their shingles right off the bat.”

Once the new doctors have been in place for a while they will have a better idea whether or not they have room in their practice for new patients. She says they are creating a list of people looking for a doctor in Kamloops to help make it easier on the physicians and their staff when the time comes.

Sze estimates there are about 15,000 people who don't have a family doctor but would like to have one. There are just under 60 family doctors in the city, though not all are working full time.

“It’s not just the recruitment. It’s the retention,” Sze stresses. “We need to continue doing that work. Our work never stops.”

For more information about the Thompson Region Division of Family Practice or to get on the family doctor waiting list call 250-372-1621.

To contact a reporter for this story, email Jennifer Stahn at jstahn@infonews.ca or call 250-819-3723. To contact an editor, email mjones@infonews.ca or call 250-718-2724.

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