Luring doctors with big money: New program to attract doctors to rural Saskatchewan
By Gaven Crites
In a bid to attract more doctors to small rural communities in Saskatchewan, the provincial government has initiated a new incentive program for recently graduated physicians.
The Rural Physician Incentive Program provides $120,000 in funding over five years to recent medical graduates who establish practices in rural communities with populations of 10,000 or less.
Prairie North Regional Health Authority CEO David Fan said the program is a wonderful development and a new recruitment tool for communities like Meadow Lake.
“It’s a very attractive incentive for people who may be considering work in smaller communities,” he said.
A majority of the $120,000 is paid out in years four and five. Fan added the contracts are “back-end loaded” to help ensure physicians consider staying longer.
For Dr. Aimee Seguin, who began practicing in Meadow Lake in September 2012, the program is fantastic news.
“It’s really smart because once you’re in a community for four or five years, the chances of you leaving are probably getting smaller and smaller,” she said. “It’s a good way of rewarding new graduates who are seen in rural Saskatchewan. It is nice to be recognized and see that the government sees value in new grads and hopefully it attracts more people.”
Premier Brad Wall announced the new program at the Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities (SARM) annual convention in Saskatoon last week.
“Recruiting doctors to rural areas and keeping them once they’re here is a huge priority for our government,” Wall said. “We’ve had some really solid success increasing Saskatchewan’s overall physician supply, but there are challenges in many rural communities.”
RM of Meadow Lake reeve Rodger Zuchotzki was in Saskatoon for the convention.
“It’s going to be interesting to see how many physicians want to come to the northern part of Saskatchewan and practice here,” he said.
The program is retroactive to April 1, 2012, and will be open to both Canadian and international medical graduates.
The government says, while the number of physicians practicing in the province is increasing, more physicians are needed in rural and remote regions.