Officially, no one seems to know how many Nova Scotians are without access to a family doctor. Dr. Lynne Harrigan, VP Medicine for the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA) recently suggested that 25,000 people could be without a doctor. Those are the people who put their names on a list maintained by the NSHA.
Other reports say 95,000 Nova Scotians may not have access to a family physician. In a curious summary Harrigan said the province was “struggling” to attract doctors to the Halifax Regional Municipality, but done well in recruiting for rural-based practices. That’s a different message than we’re usually told. Normally, the message is it’s hard to get doctors to go to rural areas.
Whatever the message, people in the medical community people are placing some of the blame on the doctor shortage to the NSHA’s reluctance to accredit doctors for solo practice. The NSHA is so fixated on their CCC master plan that they are ignoring requests by doctors willing to go solo.
As for recruitment how successful is it? And are we too limited in our search area?
World events are causing a flood of western-trained and/or accredited doctors to search for new places to practice.
For example, in February the British Medical Association found that 12,000 doctors trained in European countries could quit the UK because they feel less welcome following the Brexit vote.
In the U.S. Scientific American says that 8,400 doctors in practice are impacted by the current executive order regarding travel by citizens of seven Middle Eastern countries. And, given recent attacks on Indian engineers who were mistaken for Arab nationals, a further 50,000 doctors from India and Pakistan may be reconsidering their future in the U.S.
These add up to 70,000 trained, accredited physicians who may be ready for career change.
They speak English and have qualified to practice in comparable medical systems so would seem a ready pool to tap into. We offer personal and professional stability, a pleasant place to live and easy access to the rest of the world so foreign-born physicians can travel to conferences or visit family without fear. Are we considering pitching them?
Even if only a small fraction expressed interest this pool of talent could go a long way to providing a fast fix to our shortages.