A tuition relief program will help keep new family doctors and specialists in Nova Scotia and place them in communities that need them.
The program will be available to 25 medical graduates or doctors from out of province over the next four years. In exchange for a five-year commitment to practice medicine in an underserved community, the province will repay the cost of medical school tuition, up to $120,000.
“Faced with increasing tuition costs, the tuition relief program is welcome news for medical students at Dalhousie University,” said Russell Christie, president, Dalhousie Medical Students Society. “Not only will this program represent a first step in assisting new and recent graduates repay student debt, it will have a positive impact on the health of Nova Scotians by placing physicians in underserviced areas of the province.
“As a result, a greater proportion of residents will have their health-care needs met.”
The program was the main recommendation of the Physician Recruitment and Retention Action Team, an expert panel created to help recruit and retain doctors.
“Our focus is on recruiting doctors to the communities that need them the most, so that seniors, children and families will get the health care they need, closer to the community where they live,” said Health and Wellness Minister Leo Glavine. “Young graduating doctors, and those who are currently working outside the province, now have another incentive to practice in Nova Scotia.”
The program will be available to medical students in residency, or doctors within their first seven years of practice outside Nova Scotia.
“The focus of the action team was not only to attract more young graduates to practice in Nova Scotia, but also to provide an environment that would encourage physicians to come to this province,” said Dr. Celina White, chair of the team.
An additional $30,000 payment is available to family doctors willing to practice in a community without a regional hospital and specialists who are willing to practice outside the current Capital District Health Authority.
“This initiative brings well-trained physicians to communities in need,” said Dr. Gus Grant, registrar and CEO of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia. “It will greatly benefit our rural patients. This is an excellent step forward.”
Priority will be given to Nova Scotian applicants.
Medical residents and physicians interested in learning more about the incentive program should visit http://physicians.novascotia.ca/ . The Action Team report is available at http://novascotia.ca/dhw .