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Lethbridge expected to add 11 more doctors by 2023: officials

Click to play video: '11 more doctors expected in Lethbridge by 2023: officials' 11 more doctors expected in Lethbridge by 2023: officials
WATCH ABOVE: The City of Lethbridge has had a shortage of doctors for quite some time. On Wednesday, the Cultural and Social Standing Policy Committee heard an update to the recruitment efforts being made. As Eloise Therien explains, there are plans to welcome more doctors in the near future. – Apr 28, 2022

Lethbridge is poised to welcome 11 new doctors through a sponsorship program for international graduates by the end of this year, according to Dr. Michael Auld, an associate zone medical director at Chinook Regional Hospital.

Three have accepted offers, seven others are pending and one more is awaiting a site tour next month.

Members of the city’s cultural and social standing policy committee heard the update Wednesday afternoon.

“We’re using the process that exists through the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta to bring a physician from somewhere else who isn’t currently licensed in Canada and give them essentially a special licence,” Auld explained, “along with some assessment to make sure that they’re ready to practise here.”

Read more: ‘Physicians have left’: Lethbridge clinics struggling to meet patient demand

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It’s estimated more than 33,000 people in Lethbridge are without a family physician, and no doctors are currently accepting new patients in the city.

Auld is an anesthesiologist and said he hears of the impact on everyone involved.

“We can say pretty certain that virtually everybody is saying that their workload has increased because of the shortages,” he said.

“The other part that we can’t ignore about the shortage is the impact on patients and families themselves.”

While obtaining doctors is an important step, ensuring they want to stay in Lethbridge is another.

Carly Kleisinger, the chief of staff to the city manager, said plans for a marketing strategy are in the works.

She added that making changes will be a team effort between the city, other organizations and local physicians themselves.

Click to play video: 'B.C. doctor shortage leds to fiery question period in Victoria' B.C. doctor shortage leds to fiery question period in Victoria
B.C. doctor shortage leds to fiery question period in Victoria – Apr 25, 2022

“We realize that partnerships are important, and so we look at the role a municipality can play and a lot of that is marketing our community as a great place to live,” Kleisinger said.

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“We will be working hard… hopefully in a year or two years, we’re not going to have these same conversations.”

“I think through that work we’ll (also) be able to get a better handle on what is it that the licensed Canadian physician is looking for and how can we get them to apply for a position here,” Auld added.

There is a proposal going forward to city council to ask for $15,000 to kickstart that marketing. Kleisinger hopes other groups will follow suit.

The full cultural and social SPC meeting can be found on the city’s website. 

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