The recruitment and retention of doctors in rural Manitoba has been a challenge in recent years. And while there is more work to be done to ensure that all rural Manitobans are able to access a family physician some encouraging signs have occurred in recent weeks.
A number of regions are reporting that they have recruited a record number of new doctors to their communities. The combined effort of these regions and local clinics have shown some success as a more community based and less compensation based approach to recruitment of doctors takes hold.
In the southern health region, nine family physicians have been recruited to work in communities across the region including Steinbach (three), Carman (two), Ste. Anne (one), St. Claude/Notre Dame de Lourdes (one), Portage la Prairie (one) and Gladstone (one). In addition, seven specialists are also working in the region including two family physicians anesthetists in Winkler and Steinbach, three hospitalists in Steinbach, a general surgeon in Winkler and an ear, nose and throat specialist in Portage la Prairie.
Rural communities have been stepping up to work with key stakeholders such as the Max Rady College of Medicine at the University of Manitoba, Manitoba’s Office of Rural and Northern Health, the Manitoba Healthcare Providers Network and the College of Physicians and Surgeons to promote careers in rural health care. This type of partnership allows physicians to learn more about the opportunities in these communities to practise medicine while enjoying a rural lifestyle and helps them make the decision to build their careers in Manitoba.
While the new doctors beginning to practice in rural Manitoba are good and welcomed news, there is much more work to be done to ensure the number of doctors and other healthcare professionals is sufficient to meet the need for care.