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Burin Peninsula struggles with physician recruitment

Casting workshop, featuring residents Sherri Tran, Sarah Small, Melanie van Soeren, Katie Cao and Rebecca Lethbridge.
Casting workshop, featuring residents Sherri Tran, Sarah Small, Melanie van Soeren, Katie Cao and Rebecca Lethbridge. - Submitted

Eastern Health and MUN’s department of family medicine team up to attract doctors

BURIN, NL – Physician recruitment is an ongoing concern for rural communities around the world and Eastern Health communications director Tracey Boland acknowledged the challenges apply locally.

“Eastern Health recognizes that the landscape is very competitive for physician recruitment in rural areas both nationally and internationally," she said. "Physician recruitment throughout the eastern region, including on the Burin Peninsula, is a priority for Eastern Health.”

The organization’s efforts to secure doctors includes making presentations at recruitment events, widely advertising in physician journals and posting positions on the Newfoundland and Labrador Practice website.

Another effort Boland highlighted is the production of a primary healthcare video that will highlight physician recruitment on the Burin Peninsula as well as the advantages of working in the area.

Dr. Katherine Stringer
Dr. Katherine Stringer

These advantages are numerous and include: "outdoor and recreational activities, safe and scenic communities, culture, professional development opportunities with the hospital, and links with community physicians,” she said.

Boland added Eastern Health also has a partnership with Memorial University’s faculty of medicine, and is “pleased to provide support for the faculty of medicine’s upcoming educational retreat in Burin by providing accommodations for the residents who are participating. Being able to present what is special about the lifestyle and people of a community is essential to recruiting and retaining talent to the area.”

The educational retreat will take place at the Oldest Colony Trust building May 11-13.

Sixteen residents from the department’s eastern stream will attend the event, along with faculty, administrators and representatives from local communities. The workshop will cover various medical topics and procedures but will also offer the residents the opportunity to meet and connect with local people to form potential bonds.

Dr. Katherine Stringer, chair of the discipline of family medicine at Memorial University, stated one of the main goals is for the residents to “learn within the context of where they could be practicing, to make them aware of local resources and needs and how they can meet them.

"That’s what makes the workshop so special, the opportunity to gain an understanding of the community and to consider themselves living in that community.”

An emphasis will also be placed on the importance of the resident’s well-being during the weekend.

“Besides the academics, fun social and physical activities such as a yoga class, BBQ and a hike up to Cook’s Lookout will also be scheduled,” Stringer noted.

Stringer asserted the program showcasing Burin has a great success rate, with a number of residents deciding to return to set up practices.

The Burin Peninsula currently has 29 doctors serving approximately 20,000 residents. Eastern Health is hoping to hire physicians in general internal medicine, psychiatry and pediatrics.

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