During the last borad meeting, the RDEK approved funding that will be used for family physician recruitment and retention in the area.

During the last borad meeting, the RDEK approved funding that will be used for family physician recruitment and retention in the area.

RDEK approves grant funding for regional family physician recruitment

A local group is looking to increase recruitment of more family physicians to Cranbrook and the surrounding regional communities, and has gotten some help from the Regional District of East Kootenay.

The RDEK recently approved a funding request from the East Kootenay Division of Family Practice, which asked for $10,000 this year and $15,000 next year to support ongoing recruitment and retention efforts of family physicians to the area.

According to a letter from the East Kootenay Division of Family Practice provided to the RDEK, the organization has recruited six family physicians to Cranbrook since 2016, while also noting that five more are currently needed. Recruitment efforts have also been successful in Invermere, while the organization has also lent some support to Elk Valley communities.

Rob Gay, the RDEK board chair, said anyone who doesn’t have access to a family doctor ends up going to the hospital emergency department, which puts additional stress on the local health care system.

“To not have a family doctor they can go to is problematic, for the people as well as for the system,” he said.

From a policy standpoint, Gay noted the ability to access a family doctor carries potential economic impacts, and can be considered a factor if businesses or prospective residents are looking to move into the area.

The East Kootenay Division of Family Practice is the regional chapter of a provincial organization with a membership made up of family physicians. It runs programs supporting recruitment and retention of doctors to the region, while also advocating for primary care.

Dr. Michael Walsh chairs the EK Division of Family Practice board and is a family physician based out of Invermere.

Recruitment and retention of family physicians can be a complex issue, but finding individual fits within communities is an important priority. Lifestyle, educational opportunities, jobs for spouses and housing, are just a few of the considerations that prospective family physicians are looking at when eyeing a move to the region, he said.

“Trying to recruit doesn’t always get you [a family physician],” said Dr. Walsh. “What are the important pieces that make it successful — that’s the complexity that we speak about as far as lifestyle.”

The other consideration when family doctors move to a rural area is the scope of practice, meaning a physician at any given time may be delivering a wide range of health care services, rather than practicing with a narrower, specialized focus.

Dr. Ken Brown, who practices out of Cranbrook, said the outdoor recreational lifestyle is a huge lure for prospective family physicians, as well as the opportunity in rural areas to dabble in a wide scope of medical practice.

“Places like Invermere, Creston, Golden … if you’re a GP [General Practitioner] in one of those communities, you have to do emergency, so it’s going to attract them more,” said Dr. Brown. “We’re also getting people who don’t want to do emergency — it’s too much adrenaline for them — and so Cranbrook ends up being a good fit for that, where they can can do some family medicine, some hospital medicine, but they don’t have to do emerg [sic].”

In the past, Cranbrook has attracted medical specialists with the ‘Red Carpet Committee’ — a partnership of organizations that would figuratively roll out the red carpet as part of a recruiting process for family physicians and medical specialists.

The East Kootenay Division of Family Practice also has a recruitment coordinator role that sits on the Interior Health Recruitment and Retention Steering Committee, which focuses on enhancing locum (temporary) support, licensing and placement of international medical graduates across the region.

The EKDFP will also be contracting a marketing lead to develop additional recruitment and retention strategies, seek out additional grant funding, and work with the East Kootenay Foundation for Health.



trevor.crawley@cranbrooktownsman.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Just Posted

Doses of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine are seen being prepared on Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Decatur, Ga. Hundreds of children, ages 12 to 15, received the Pfizer vaccine at the DeKalb Pediatric Center, just days after it was approved for use within their age group. (AP Photo/Ron Harris)
One death, 60 new cases of COVID-19 in Interior Health

The death is connected to the outbreak at Spring Valley long-term care in Kelowna

The Salmon Arm RCMP seize hundreds of grams of drugs in a raid in Sorrento on March 20, 2021. (Black Press file photo)
RCMP have suspect identified in rash of local thefts

Police have a suspect in a rash of recent thefts from local… Continue reading

Rotary Way is being repaved from 4th Street South to the second bridge, just past St. Mary’s School. (Barry Coulter photo)
Rotary Way being repaved along Joseph Creek

The Rotary Club is having a portion of its namesake trail repaved.… Continue reading

The Libby Dam on the Kootenai River in Montana. The dam created the Koocanusa Reservoir, which straddles the B.C./Montana border. (photo courtesy Wikipedia)
Outflow at Libby Dam to be increased

Volume increase to aid migration and spawning conditions for endangered white sturgeon in the Kootenai River

Cranbrook City Hall. File photo.
Cranbrook municipal property tax levy set to increase by 2.35 per cent

Municipal property taxes are going up following adoption of the 2021 rates… Continue reading

Prince Rupert was one of the first B.C. communities targeted for mass vaccination after a steep rise in infections. Grey area marks community-wide vaccine distribution. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. tracks big drop in COVID-19 infections after vaccination

Prince Rupert, Indigenous communities show improvement

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking on a remote forest road in Naramata on May 10. (Submitted)
Kamloops brothers identified as pair found dead near Penticton

The bodies of Carlo and Erick Fryer were discovered by a local couple walking

Municipal governments around B.C. have emergency authority to conduct meetings online, use mail voting and spend reserve funds on operation expenses. (Penticton Western News)
Online council meetings, mail-in voting option to be extended in B.C.

Proposed law makes municipal COVID-19 exceptions permanent

A nurse prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine in Kelowna on Tuesday, March 16. (Phil McLachlan/Black Press)
British Columbians aged 20+ can book for vaccine Saturday, those 18+ on Sunday

‘We are also actively working to to incorporate the ages 12 to 17 into our immunization program’

The AstraZeneca-Oxford University vaccine. (AP/Eranga Jayawardena)
2nd person in B.C. diagnosed with rare blood clotting after AstraZeneca vaccine

The man, in his 40s, is currently receiving care at a hospital in the Fraser Health region

Brian Peach rescues ducklings from a storm drain in Smithers May 12. (Lauren L’Orsa video screen shot)
VIDEO: Smithers neighbours rescue ducklings from storm drain

Momma and babies made it safely back to the creek that runs behind Turner Way

Signage for ICBC, the Insurance Corporation of British Columbia, is shown in Victoria, B.C., on February 6, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
$150 refunds issued to eligible customers following ICBC’s switch to ‘enhanced care’

Savings amassed from the insurance policy change will lead to one-time rebates for close to 4 million customers

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good
Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Most Read