The Nova Scotia Health Authority is beefing up its physician recruitment team with three new positions that could help the province's northern zone in particular.
The announcement comes one week after the health authority came under fire for skipping a rural-doctors meeting in St. John's that included a component of recruiting medical students, residents and other current physicians.
The organization is hiring one more full-time recruiter and two recruitment assistants. Grayson Fulmer, senior director of medical affairs for NSHA, said the increase in staff has been in the works since March, and has been going through the human-resources process.
The full-time recruiter will be placed in the northern zone, which includes East Hants and Colchester, Cumberland, and Pictou counties.
Immediate help needed
Just four family doctors and three specialists were hired for that area last year.
"It's not our busiest zone, but it's where we're having the biggest challenges recruiting family practitioners as well as specialists," Fulmer said. "We're finding, based on our review of the data, that we need an additional resource immediately."
The assistants will be positioned in the western and eastern zones, but available to support the other recruiters.
It will primarily be their job to help with behind-the-scenes tasks, including working with immigration and arranging site visits with physicians on the ground.
"We're finding the administration component of recruitment is taking recruiters away from their primary goal, which of course is recruiting."
Jobs posted within 2 weeks
Recruitment switched from being a part of the Health Department to the health authority after amalgamation.
Last year, NSHA invested in one recruiter for each zone. This new boost for the team will increase it from five to eight.
The team has a goal of hiring 110 physicians a year.
Last year, the team hired 38 family doctors and 65 specialists. There were pending offers for 53 other physicians, but they'll be counted for the current fiscal year because of their start date.
The CBC series The Search revealed that Nova Scotia's team was smaller and newer compared to other provinces that are deeming the doctor shortage a top priority. Recruiters told CBC News it was "all hands on deck" as they worked long hours to help fill the gaps in the doctor shortage.
Fulmer says help is on the way; the jobs will be posted within the next two weeks.
He adds there is the possibility that more additions could follow.
"We are always mindful in evaluating the information coming forward so we may choose to add more teams to change the composition of the team in the future. To ensure that we're actually being able to be as effective and efficient as possible in our recruitment efforts."