Nova Scotia’s lone medical school is adding 16 new seats aimed at retaining doctors in a province struggling with physician shortages.
Premier Stephen McNeil says the government will spend $300,000 this year to add the new seats at Dalhousie University with the annual spend to increase to $4.8 million by the 2023-2024 academic year.
Four seats will be added this school year with 12 more added for 2020-2021 for a total of 94 seats for first-year students.
“If they’re Dal grads going into those residences, over 80 per cent of them are staying in Nova Scotia,” said Dr. David Anderson, dean of the Dalhousie Medical School.
“So if we get Dal students moving into Dal residencies, that’s our greatest opportunity to have those doctors come back and stay here.”
The new seats are for African Nova Scotian, Indigenous, and students from rural communities in Nova Scotia. Both McNeil and Anderson said it’s important that the profession reflects the diversity of its patients.
“It’s very clear medical schools are like the country,” McNeil explained. “They become urbanized.
“So in order to attract physicians throughout communities, they have to have some level of experience in those communities, otherwise they’ll stay in the urban parts of our country.”
“When the communities can start to see graduates coming from their communities and being successful in medical school, then they say, ‘Gee, I want to be like that individual, I’d like to do that for my career as well,'” added Anderson. “And then we’re going to have real success here.”
McNeil says adding seats at Dalhousie is an important part of work aimed at recruiting and retaining doctors in the province.
– with files from Elizabeth McSheffrey