QUINTE WEST – Quality of life is a key component to attracting more physicians to the area, says Trenton Memorial Hospital Foundation executive director Wendy Warner.
“Financial incentive is not attracting the doctors, it’s actually the quality of life,” said Warner during a delegation to council on Monday night.
Warner was bringing council up to speed on ongoing physician recruitment efforts in the Quinte West and Brighton areas.
“I think it’s all about getting that communication out there and making ourselves known,” she said.
To that end the recently formed Physician R&R Committee has been shaking hands and taking names.
A Christmas reception held the end of last year was attended by 11 different physicians.
“We had an international physician who attended that’s interested in practicing locally, provided that she get the international residency accepted,” said Warner. A second physician who currently works at CFB Trenton in health services is interested in staying locally when he’s done his contractural time.
Warner said feedback from physicians currently practicing at TMH have so far been positive and that they would like to see the committee continue to create a “physician community.”
The committee has also created a database and, to date, have been able to identify 143 local physicians. They have also identified students through the Kay Stafford Memorial Bursary program at local high schools where they offer incentives to students in post-secondary education.
“So we’re tracking where they’re going because often times they are going through to medical school,” said Warner.
There are also six local high schools with students that participate with the foundation throughout the year, some of which go on to enter medical school.
“These are the students that we want to retain… and stay in touch with.”
Another database catalogues locums and residents who temporarily come through TMH’s emergency room or inpatient unit.
“Up until this time, until the City of Quinte West and the foundation created a partnership, we weren’t tracking these people,” said Warner, adding the database gives them a new opportunity to stay in touch with those individuals and possibly sell them on practising in Quinte West.
She also said they’re, more and more, starting to see families come forward who have grandchildren or nieces or nephews who are currently in medical school or practicing abroad.
Other efforts include attending job fairs where they can seek and speak with prospective physicians.
A job fair last month at McMaster University netted four “very strong” prospects — three family physicians and one OBGYN, said Warner.
Warner said conversations with physicians at these job fairs has been positive.
“They had heard of Quinte West, they had heard about Trenton Memorial Hospital.
“It was actually quite surprising the number of students that we saw that were from small communities in eastern Ontario that don’t want to practice in the large GTA centre. They want another small home.
“They don’t always necessarily want to practice in their home tome, but want to be close enough to go home.”
“I think we’re putting out out an image that it’s a great place to work, it’s a great place to live,” said Mayor Jim Harrison.
“The number one focus is family physicians,” said Harrison. “From our point of view. From Quinte Health Care it would be doctors working in the hospital, either specialists or emergency or whatever. But focus on the family physician is really where we’re putting our attention.”
Harrison said they have open arms for anyone who can work as a health care specialist in the area.
“We’ll find them a place to work,” he said. “We don’t have a surplus, we have a deficiency.”