Council/RDCK commit $20,000 to doctor recruitment strategy
The City of Castlegar and the RDCK (Areas I and J) are each throwing $10,000 into a kitty to begin proactively recruiting doctors to the area, according to city councillor Florio Vassilakakis.
Vassilakakis said an ad hoc group of doctors and residents set up a meeting with the Chamber of Commerce, Castlegar mayor and council, and RDCK directors for Areas I and J.
“It’s usually left to the individual doctors to recruit for their own practices,” he said. “But our doctors have had a very tough time with high patient loads (and are) finding it very difficult to focus on recruitment.”
To that end, they brought out the creator of a successful recruitment project in Creston that employs what Vassilakakis calls, “a whole different approach to the issue”.
“Instead of just throwing money at it – promising doctors houses or cars to come here, but then only having them stay the minimum amount of time they’re required to – this approach is all about selling the lifestyle, the area and career opportunities.”
He said the aim is to match communities with doctors whose life goals and interests match the community, promising a longterm fit for both – a fit he said will become increasingly critical in the coming years.
“By the end of next year, we’re going to lose two more doctors,” he said. “What ends up happening is our Emergency Room ends up becoming a drop-in clinic.”
He said that translates to a poor use of resources and little, if any, follow-up care for patients – and doctor shortages negatively impact quality of life and economic development in the larger community.
“Those are concerns for the entire region,” he said. “For Interior Health, we’re not on the priority list, when we’ve got places like Kaslo, who are in the media because they have no doctors and can’t even keep their ER open.”
Chamber of Commerce executive director Tammy Verigin-Burk said the money will be used primarily for promotional material, and to hire a recruiter working with Health Match BC, a service for doctors looking to relocate to our province.
“They screen for qualifications (ie: for international candidates) to help get doctors into BC towns,” she said. “That’s often where it all falls apart.”
She said hiring the recruiter means taking that extra step and ensuring the lifestyle and amenities here are a good fit for the candidate in question, so they’ll be willing to stick around for the long haul and invest years in the community.
She said the goal is to fast-track the process, building on the success of Creston’s program, and added the committee has already shortlisted a potential recruiter.
“That person’s going to have to hit the ground running,” she said.
Council voted unanimously to spend the $10,000 at its most recent meeting Monday evening.