The New Brunswick government has announced that 11 new physicians will soon join Fredericton’s medical ranks.
Six specialists will begin work later this summer while five family doctors will set up their practice sometime soon.
Right now more than 50,000 New Brunswickers are on a wait list, unattached to a family physician — a problem that isn’t limited to rural parts of the province.
“I can recall knocking on doors and that was one of the major issues, people didn’t have family physicians,” explained Families and Children Minister Stephen Horsman, who is also the MLA for Fredericton North.
“I think it’s going to put a huge dent in the people on the waiting list to have family physicians.”
Recent graduate Katelyn Mathers is one of the five family physicians hired. She says as a Fredericton native, helping the situation in her hometown has always been important to her.
“I saw the need for family medicine here and from the moment I started medical school my plan was to come home,” said Mathers.
“I know that I see multiple people a day who don’t have family doctors,” Mathers said, referring to her residency. “I’m looking forward to making a dent in that.”
Officials from the Horizon Health Network, which operates twelve hospitals and more than 100 medical facilities, clinics and offices in New Brunswick, northern Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, said a coordinated approach has helped them recruit new graduates to areas that most need them.
However even as the new doctors will help improve the current situation, Horizon says aggressive recruiting is still needed to offset the effect of retiring doctors.
“We can’t recruit one for one,” said Dr. Tom Peters, Fredericton’s Medical Director.
“If we have a senior physician retiring now, generally they carry a caseload that is twice what is comfortable and workable for our new physicians coming in.”