Nova Scotians will have access to more family doctors with a new family medicine training site in South West Health. The site will create five more family medicine residency training spots at Dalhousie medical school.
“Every Nova Scotian should have access to a family doctor,” said David Wilson, Minister of Health and Wellness. “This new residency training site keeps us on track to our commitment of improving access to doctors, especially in smaller communities.”
In 2012, the province released its Physician Resource Plan, which identified several ways to improve planning and management of its physician workforce. One of the recommendations was to change the mix and distribution of doctors by increasing family physicians.
“Dalhousie medical school is happy to have the opportunity to develop new training sites for physicians outside of urban centres,” said Dr. Gerry Johnston, associate dean at Dalhousie medical school. “Research shows that physicians who train in rural areas are more likely to practice there. We anticipate that this new site will substantially improve the number, mix, and distribution of family physicians in South West Nova and other Maritime sites like it.”
The first group of residents will begin in July 2014.
The province funded another residency program in Annapolis Valley Health in 2011. The sites will produce 10 new family doctors each year, providing better care sooner to Nova Scotians.
“This is a great day for the people of South West Nova,” said Dr. Mike Fleming, president, Doctors Nova Scotia. “Training physicians in southwest Nova Scotia will expose them to the lifestyle benefits and rewards of practicing in rural Nova Scotia. We hope as a result more physicians will choose to practice medicine in rural communities.”
The residency training sites are a collaborative effort between the departments of Health and Wellness, and Labour and Advanced Education, Dalhousie medical school, and South West District Health Authority.
“Our community of doctors across South West Health recognize that while this represents a significant commitment both personally and professionally, it is worthwhile because of the unprecedented long-term benefits from a recruitment and retention standpoint,” said Dr. Alenia Kysela, vice-president medicine, South West Health. “Increasing the number of family doctors in our region over the next several years will be a game changer with respect to providing primary health care services to the people of Shelburne, Digby and Yarmouth counties.”
The provincial has committed $665,000 over the next two years to fund the program.