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Posted: July 29, 2020

It takes a village… to recruit a doctor

By P.K. Phillips

Cranbrook medical clinics are looking to hire at least eight family physicians in the next two to 12 months.

The EK Division of Family Practice, a non-profit society that supports family physicians in meeting community health care needs, recently received funding support from the Regional District of East Kootenay (RDEK), once again, for physician recruitment work throughout the East Kootenay. While very grateful for this foundational funding, those funds only begin to meet the need in attracting new GPs to practice here. There’s a bigger problem.

Right now, the entire WORLD is looking to recruit family physicians.

This is an incredibly competitive arena. New recruits have endless choices Internationally, within Canada, and in B.C. of where to practice. While family doctors, and their clinics, are increasingly looking at creative and alternative ways to provide patient treatment and service; there continues to be an ongoing and, potentially increasing, demand for general practitioners. Physicians leave a practice for a variety of reasons. In Cranbrook, many are coming into retirement, some have relocated due to family, some are on shorter leaves for parental reasons; others are pursuing alternate medical career choices or have medical issues of their own.

In 2014, the last time a physician shortage was looming in Cranbrook, the EK Division of Family Practice launched the Cranbrook Physician Task Force and the Red Carpet Committee in partnership with the Cranbrook Chamber of Commerce, Interior Health, numerous community organizations, the Ktunaxa Nation, and local government.

Recently retired Dr. Ross Dawson was part of that committee and commented: “I was impressed at the willingness of the community to come together to help out. Many of the ideas that came from business leaders and the chamber members we would not have thought of. Many organizations and political leaders showed their support, and I think it encouraged the Cranbrook physician community to know that we weren’t alone in this challenge.”

At that time, four new doctors were recruited through collaborative efforts. With three out of four Cranbrook clinics currently posting vacancies, these groups have been called into action once again. The EK Division would like to go one step further, and ask the Cranbrook community for help as well.

What can you do?

Help get the word out! You can talk to the friend of a friend whose son or daughter is studying medicine; you can encourage graduates to consider medicine as a career, you can brag about the region to potential recruits, let them know about the work-life balance, the low cost of living, the lifestyle opportunities… and when they ask about what practicing medicine looks like here, give them the EK Division of Family Practice contact information. ([email protected]). We’ll put them in touch with a practicing physician.

Tom Shypitka, Kootenay East MLA, who participates on the Cranbrook Physician Task Force shares a story from when he attended a meeting in Victoria (pre-COVID) and was talking with new medical grads. He mentioned Cranbrook as an option for family practice. They either had no idea where Cranbrook was, or had never even heard of it. With your help we can get Cranbrook on their radar.

Patti Phillips is Communications and Marketing Contractor with EK Division of Family Practice

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