P.E.I. is seeing some success in hiring new doctorate-level psychologists by adding another tool to its recruitment strategy.
The province is offering a $15,000 cash incentive in return for a promise of remaining and practising on the Island for a specified period of time.
"Financial incentives are often an effective tool to engage with leads," said Rebecca Gill, director of recruitment and retention with the Department of Health.
"It's a great way to demonstrate the commitment that this province has to bringing health professionals to the province."
The province began offering the incentive this summer, and four new hires are eligible for it. It is a tool it was already using to recruit nurses, nurse practitioners, physicians, and had previously offered to physiotherapists.
The incentive is important, said clinical psychologist Dr. Jackie Goodwin, team lead with the province, partly because other jurisdictions are offering them.
"It places us on a more level playing field with other agencies across Canada," said Goodwin.
"Doctorate-level clinical psychologists are highly recruited and it is extremely competitive."
But both Goodwin and Gill stress the financial incentive is just one part of the recruiting strategy.
Another recently developed part of the strategy is the creation of positions designed to interest potential recruits. That includes the development of team lead positions, which take on leadership roles not only clinically but also in terms of developing policy and programs.
In 2017, the province created a group for psychologists that can work together.
"The formation of the psychology group … has been really important for that inner, collegial consultation, so they don't feel like they're out there, kind of, without much support," said Goodwin.
In 2018 UPEI announced it would offer a doctor of psychology program. This was also part of a provincial plan to recruit more psychologists.
The first class will graduate in 2023. Gill said the province has no commitments from any of the students yet, but that is not a surprise.
"The recruitment game, as I often say, is a long game," she said.
"You have to create relationships with people at various stages where they're at in their professional practices and in their development."
The province has been meeting with those students, she said, and will continue to build those relationships.