2 provinces provide updates to physician retention plans

Increased wages, mentorship and support promised for doctors

2 provinces provide updates to physician retention plans

Two provinces recently made moves to ensure that they attract and retain doctors into their fold.

The Saskatchewan government and physicians in the province recently ratified a new four-year contract, with 93% of physicians who cast ballots voting in favour of the agreement.

The new contract provides an overall average general rate increase of 2.5% per year between April 1, 2022 and March 31, 2026.

“Continued investment into our physicians allows Saskatchewan to remain desirable for family doctors and specialists to live and work,” said Everett Hindley, minister of health. “Our new agreement will ensure continued retention of our quality doctors as well as incentivize more professionals to choose Saskatchewan.”

The agreement also includes a competitive market rate adjustment applied to the first year of the agreement, and increased funding to support long term retention, parental leave and continuing medical education for doctors.

Saskatchewan also introduced new targeted investments that include the following:

  • A new primary care payment model for family physicians that unifies existing volume-based pay with a new capitation payment (based on patient contacts and panel size), allowing more time to deal with complex patient issues and an increased focus on preventive care. This investment of more than $50 million in annual funding is expected to stabilize and begin a transformation of primary care in Saskatchewan.
  • An innovation fund of up to $10 million annually over the duration of the agreement, that will increase the amount of team-based care in primary health care settings, resulting in health care providers working to the top of their scope and improving access to primary care in the province.  
  • Funding to address gender pay inequity in physician fee codes, as well as new funding to support physician training and awareness related to equity, diversity, racism, and truth and reconciliation.  
  • A new Rural and Northern Practice Recognition Premium that recognizes the unique nature and critical importance of rural medicine.  
  • Introduction of permanent virtual care codes to increase efficient access to health services for patients and reduce unnecessary travel for appropriate services. 

Previously, Alberta announced it is investing $2 million over the next three years through the Nurse Practitioner Association of Alberta, which will help to implement a compensation model.

Manitoba’s New to Practice Program

Meanwhile, Manitoba is investing $1.5 million over five years through a new program to mentor and support physicians in the first five years of their practice.

Under the New to Practice Program, Doctors Manitoba will create support networks within the health-care system to mentor and collaborate with physicians in the first five years of their practice in Manitoba. The program will reduce physician burnout and isolation, while also improving patient care by creating an environment where new physicians thrive as they grow their practices, noted Uzoma Asagwara, minister of health, seniors and long-term care.

“Every Manitoban deserves quality care, close to home. To make sure that happens, we need to attract more doctors and keep doctors already in our system working here in Manitoba,” said Asagwara. “This initiative will make sure all doctors new to practicing in Manitoba get the assistance and encouragement they need to thrive and provide excellent care to Manitobans. It shows the profession that we understand the demands of their job, particularly at the outset, and are here to help.”

Through the funding – delivered at $300,000 annually – Doctors Manitoba will establish the program’s content together with stakeholders, including established physicians, University of Manitoba staff, clinic managers, health authorities, the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba and other members of the health-care system. 

Doctors Manitoba has begun recruiting an advisor position to lead this work.

Under the direction of the program advisor, programming, mentorship opportunities, collaborations and resources will be developed to create a supportive and welcoming environment for new doctors. 

Practical support for new doctors includes:

  • assistance settling into a practice;
  • help building connections to the existing physician community;
  • information on successfully navigating, escalating and resolving challenges; and 
  • settlement support for physicians’ families.

“We appreciate this new funding from the government of Manitoba to support doctors as they begin and grow their medical practices in Manitoba, an important step as we work together to address the critical physician shortage,” said Dr. Michael Boroditsky, president, Doctors Manitoba. “For both recent Manitoba graduates or established physicians new to Manitoba, our New to Practice Program will help with establishing and maintaining a strong practice and foundation of support, with the goal of reducing burnout and isolation while improving physician recruitment and retention.”

Healthcare workers’ primary reasons for quitting are poor wages and unsafe working conditions (70%), according to a previous SEIU Healthcare study.

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