Recruitment efforts by the Central Interior Rural Division (CIRD) of Family Practice are seeing some successes, said executive director Trevor Barnes.
“We have four international medical grads coming to Williams Lake and 100 Mile House to set up practice that will be here by January 2017,” Barnes told the Cariboo Chilcotin Regional Hospital District (CCRHD) Board during its regular meeting Friday, July 22. “Three will be in Williams Lake and one in 100 Mile House.”
Another physician has been given a letter of acceptance to come to 100 Mile House, and two recent medical graduates who grew up in Williams Lake are back in the community doing locums.
The CIRD works to recruit and retain medical professionals in the Central and South Cariboo and represents 47 members in 100 Mile House, Williams Lake and Tatla Lake.
“We have to congratulate the physicians in the communities for the tremendous work and effort they’ve made to facilitating the physician readiness assessment program in offering placements for international medical graduates and ensuring they have a good experience,” Barnes said, noting it is very much a team effort, with everyone working hard together, including local government, community groups and businesses.
Aside from creating five physician recruitment videos that have been viewed thousands of times, the CIRD also created a financial rural calculator to assess where a medical professionals would be in five, 10 and 20 years if they moved to the Cariboo versus other regions like Vancouver or Kelowna.
“The Cariboo comes out very well and can sometimes mean a difference of 10 or 15 years in terms of paying their student debt and being able to work toward their retirement,” Barnes said.
A locum program launched this year has also been very successful and well-received.
By the end of September 2016, there should be seven locum placements arranged in the region, and the CIRD is working to fill eight more, said Laurie Walters who is contracted by the CIRD to work on physician recruitment.
In February, the CIRD began its own campaign to recruit physicians, picking a model that relies on the community’s buy-in.
“We are confident we’ve got a good campaign,” Walters said, adding in the near future they will be ready to launch the program.
The fact the Cariboo welcomed an internist in 2015 and a child psychiatrist in 2016 to Williams Lake has been an added bonus, Barnes said.
The internist has had a huge impact in both Williams Lake and 100 Mile House in terms of treating complex conditions and child psychiatrist Matthew Burkey has been offering many supports to local general practitioners, even making himself available at lunch time for physicians to call him.
“For an area our size to have a resident child and adult psychiatrist is really something, you don’t see that very often,” Barnes said.
As for the possibility of developing a walk-in clinic for Williams Lake, Barnes and Walters said there are none on the radar at this point.