Olga Kaliadina was on the east coast last week in pursuit of a prize catch – physicians willing to live and work in Terrace.
As the Northern Health Authority’s Terrace-based physician recruiter for the northwest, Kaliadina went to St. John’s, Newfoundland attending the annual conference of the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada.
At the very least, Kaliadina was looking for physicians willing to make a site visit to the city and area so she and others can emphasize the area’s attractions.
“Terrace has a lot to offer,” notes Kaliadina of the attractions. “There’s affordability of life, skiing, hiking, swimming.”
On the medical side, an eventual new Mills Memorial Hospital was emphasized as well as the local number of resident and visiting specialists which now number more than 20 in total.
Past recruiting campaigns have shown that most site visits turn out positive, with a catch rate of 80 per cent, she added.
Kaliadina is quick to add that recruiting nowadays doesn’t just focus on a physician, the physician’s family also has to be sold on Terrace and area.
So while tours of the hospital and other medical facilities and meeting with the local medical community is important, the area’s schools and recreational and cultural amenities are also key.
For a physician’s spouse it can also mean the prospect of finding employment in his or her field.
“It’s not just recruitment. It’s retention as well. We want them to stay in the community,” said Kaliadina of assembling a complete package that will appeal to a physician and his or her family.
Putting together a comprehensive site visit and arranging the site visit itself is often outside of Northern Health’s own resources.
Kaliadina said that while there’s money to pay for airfare of a physician, travel expenses for a spouse and children are not covered.
Providing child care must be considered as well as the costs of sightseeing via helicopter or jet boat for example.
It’s why Kaliadina and Dr. Jaco Fourie, Northern Health’s northwest medical director, gathered local elected and health care officials here Sunday to discuss establishing a community-supported recruitment and retention campaign with a local budget to finance site visits and other costs.
If not attending various physician conferences, such as events in Nanaimo, Toronto, Vancouver, where she plans to go this year, Kaliadina is in email and phone contact with physicians.
“The first contact is an email and that’s followed up with a phone call. What does the community look like? What are the physicians looking for? What are their interests?” Kaliadina said. “We’re looking for a good fit.”
As much as selling the city and area is important, just as crucial is checking a physician’s references, licences and certifications.
That can take some time, said Kaliadina of the need to ensure a physician willing to move to Terrace meets required standards.
Aside from working to attract physicians already working in the country, there are now specific pathways to attract Canadians trained out of the country who wish to move back and for non-citizens trained in their own countries who are considering a move to Canada.
Canadians trained elsewhere who wish to return to the country can achieve Canadian certification after a process which culminates in a two-year residency program while non-Canadians can achieve Canadian certification after a number of benchmarks ending in a three-year commitment to work in an underserved community.