Nova Scotia needs doctors more than ever, but John Philpott, CEO of CanAm Physician Recruiting, says it’s getting more difficult to keep them here.
“The Middle East is a very rich place, and they’re restructuring their health system to seek Western-trained doctors, which is going to be a massive drain on Canada,” says Philpott. “Nova Scotia needs to take action in order to prevent all of our doctors from being lured by double the salary — tax-free — all expenses paid, and access to all of the services you can imagine.”
CanAm Physician Recruiting is Canada’s most trusted international physician recruitment firm, and has been placing doctors in positions worldwide for nearly two decades.
In order to effectively recruit in any field, Philpott says it’s a matter of putting Nova Scotia on the map and selling it as a great place to live and practice — which is exactly what CanAm does every day.
“Nova Scotia has the warmest climate in Canada, we’re strategically located for easy international travel, we have excellent universities, and you’re never more than three hours from the centre of it all,” says Philpott. “We have two offices here. Who better to sell Nova Scotia than us?”
CanAm recently recruited a skilled obstetrician to Antigonish — a town which had been suffering in recent years from a physician shortage.
“Antigonish is a gem, really, because it’s a nice town that has a well-run hospital with very little politics,” says Philpott. “It’s a wonderful place to live and practice, and we were happy to be able to bring such a fine OB to their town.”
Philpott says the province’s trouble is that in-house recruiters and hospital administrators are limited in their ability to reach out to interested physicians. When they do, they can only promote one specific area — and everybody likes to see all of their options on the table.
David Nurse, Regional Manager with CanAm Physician Recruiting, says being in the private recruitment sector allows he and his CanAm colleagues to work with candidates in their own time zones. They can also have longer discussions with them, which isn’t usually possible for a government employee working Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
“We’re not civil servants,” says Nurse. “We live and work in Nova Scotia, so we can really sell people on the lifestyle of Nova Scotia.”
Nurse says the challenge is making international medical graduates aware of the career opportunities that exist here in Nova Scotia.
“Sometimes a candidate is under the impression that they’re able to move to Toronto and start practicing tomorrow without any help,” explains Nurse. “We’re able to bring Nova Scotia into the conversation, and de-mystify it — tell them about what life is like, and what kinds of supports are available here for them.”
Nurse says practicing in rural Nova Scotia is “a very viable option” for many international medical graduates.
“The salaries can be quite good, and it’s an enjoyable lifestyle for families who are just getting settled in Canada,” says Nurse. “We recently recruited a physician here from Fort St. John, BC, where he was so isolated. But even living in rural Nova Scotia, you’re never very far from anything.”
Although Nova Scotia faces a serious doctor shortage, Philpott says there’s a mentality in government that Nova Scotia has too many doctors, and that these doctors are overpaid. He believes that perception is based on a study that doesn’t take the whole picture into consideration.
“It didn’t take into account that Nova Scotia has an aging population, and that includes aging physicians,” says Philpott. “We have a lot of geriatric patients who require chronic disease management.”
“We don’t have enough physicians to keep up with the demand, and Nova Scotia should be using every tool that’s available to them for recruitment.”