Nine family physicians have started or will soon be starting practice in rural communities across the Interlake-Eastern regional health authority (RHA) of Manitoba.
Advanced Education, Skills and Immigration Minister Wayne Ewasko and Health and Seniors Care Minister Audrey Gordon made the announcement Friday.
The new medical graduates are coming both internationally and locally — four of the graduates are international.
“Four of the new physicians are graduates of the one-year Medical Licensure Program for International Medical Graduates offered through the University of Manitoba, which is designed to integrate physicians who have practiced internationally into the Canadian medical system by allowing them to gain a better understanding of the Canadian and local health-care system,” said Ewasko.
“This program has allowed physicians who have practiced internationally to better understand the needs of rural patients and the variety of health-care services people require.”
“Family medicine physicians work as part of a team to provide access to primary health care and robust emergency department coverage in rural communities,” said Dr. David Matear, chief executive officer of Interlake-Eastern RHA.
The grads will be working in the rural and underserviced areas of Manitoba and have made a four-year commitment to the region.
The minister also noted that out of the nine new physicians, two of them are local and completed their two-year residency program in the Interlake-Eastern RHA as well as three who were trained in rural and Northern Manitoba through the Dauphin, Brandon and Northern-Remote residency programs.
In addition, four family medicine residents are completing their residency training in Interlake-Eastern RHA right now – two in their first year of the program and two in their final year.
Residency is the last stage in training for doctors following graduation from medical school.
The family medicine residency program at the University of Manitoba’s Max Rady College of Medicine includes training in a number of practice areas including primary care, psychiatry, obstetrics, general surgery, internal medicine, emergency department care, pediatrics and seniors care.
“Thank you to the local doctors and staff for your support when I was a student. I learned a lot about family medicine and working rurally from you,” said Dr. Alexandra Wood, who participated in a work placement program in Beausejour.
“I wanted to do my residency rurally because of the wide variety of exposure to different types of medicine. I loved that I can care for my patients from birth all the way through to their elderly stages of life.”
The ministers noted ongoing physician recruitment and retention efforts will be a key priority of clinical service planning to be undertaken by Shared Health Services Manitoba.
This work will support consistent and reliable health-care services, effective health human resource planning, capital equipment investments, construction planning and other initiatives that should be coordinated provincewide.
Recruitment efforts by the region and private clinics are seeing new physicians begin practice in Beausejour, Eriksdale, Lac du Bonnet, Teulon and Selkirk, with internationally experienced medical graduates working in Ashern and Pine Falls.
“Like most rural regions in Canada, attracting and retaining family physicians has been a challenge for the Interlake and North Eastman communities,” said Gordon.
“By training family physicians in rural communities, we are exposing them to both the benefits and specific challenges of providing health care to smaller communities while also ensuring quality care for rural Manitobans.”
“I’d like to recognize the hard work of our region’s physician recruitment and retention team and our local physicians who develop relationships with physicians in training, create a welcoming environment and showcase various practice opportunities in the area,” said Matear.