There is good news for those who are looking for a family physician in Lethbridge. The Cultural and Social Standing Policy Committee was told that more doctors will be making their way to our city this fall. Three international graduate physicians have signed offer letters to come to Lethbridge and an additional seven are pending. It’s estimated that 40,000 people in Lethbridge do not have access to a family doctor. Dr. Michael Auld, the Associate Zone Medical Director for the Chinook Regional Hospital, says this is a great next step for our city.
“Up until now you can see there are over 100 applicants because people are interested in coming to Canada and starting a practice. They’re very excited about the opportunity. We haven’t had to offer incentives per se for recruitment. It reminds me of an important point with this whole strategy, that it’s a recruitment and retainment strategy. Ultimately they’re going to be with us for five years if we’ve sponsored them. After that they’re free to practice wherever they want to.”
More than 100 applications were received and 27 candidates were interviewed at a cost between $59,000 to $68,000 per sponsored physician. The maximum recruitment pace is two offers per month, depending on the availability of assessors for each of those two consecutive assessments by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. Auld says a partnership has been created by the City of Lethbridge, Economic Development Lethbridge, and the Chamber of Commerce. The earliest start date for the recruits is this fall and each assessment will take three months. All sponsorship candidates will choose their own clinic in Lethbridge.
The committee agreed that the City Manager will explore options to work with AHS and the Chinook Primary Care Network. A letter will also be drafted to Health Minister Jason Copping looking to create funding and support for an Academic Teaching Clinic in Lethbridge. The SPC has asked Lethbridge council to allocate $15,000 to a family physician marketing campaign from Council Contingencies in partnership with AHS, Chinook Primary Care Network, and Economic Development Lethbridge.