JSC incentive program attracting rural doctors

Nine new doctors have been hired in rural B.C., thanks to an initiative announced this spring by the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues (JSC).

The Rural Physicians for British Columbia incentive provides recruited doctors with a one-time payment of $100,000 when they commit to a three-year return of service in a designated rural community.

A total of 17 communities are eligible for the funding and almost half of these communities now have at least one new doctor. Communities benefiting from the new doctors are Clearwater, Terrace, Chetwynd, Bella Coola, Hazelton, Princeton, Nakusp and Port Hardy.

The doctors come from various locations and are at different stages in their professional careers ranging from relatively new physicians to others that have been practicing for over a decade. Of the new physicians, eight are general practitioners and one is a specialist in anaesthesiology.

“Being a doctor in a rural community can be challenging, but it’s also extremely rewarding,” said BCMA president Dr. William Cunningham, a rural emergency physician who works in Duncan. “The new incentive encourages doctors to give rural practice a try.”

The communities for the incentive program were selected by the JSC, in collaboration with regional health authorities, based on a number of factors including the degree of difficulty the community has experienced in recruiting hard-to-fill physician positions.

“The financial incentive and guaranteed income made the transition and worry a lot easier, as it is a big jump. Our visit to the community really helped. Everyone was amazing to us,” said Dr. Steven Broadbent, who recently moved from the U.K. to Clearwater.

Participating physicians receive $50,000 when they begin working in the community. The remaining $50,000 is paid once they have completed one year of service. The full amount must be repaid if the three-year commitment is not fulfilled.

B.C. has a comprehensive set of incentive programs to encourage doctors to set up and maintain practice in rural areas of the province. Many of these rural programs were developed and are maintained by the JSC. For more information about the JSC’s rural programs, visit: www.health.gov.bc.ca/pcb/rural_recruitment. html.

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