Newfoundland seeks solution to MD turnover

In Newfoundland and Labrador, the
turnover of international medical graduates (IMG’s) is so severe that for almost every IMG
who arrives in the province, another leaves. However a new program
by the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NMA) aims to keep foreign-trained physicians in the province. Launched last fall, the IMG Preceptor Program matches incoming physicians with other physicians with similar backgrounds. A motivating factor, says an NLMA Past President Ian Smith, is the simple desire to make new physicians feel more at home. “It turns out a lot of them are turned off in their first few weekshere by a wide variety of reasons, many of which are related to a lack of familiarity with the Canadian system,” says Smith Bruce Squires, the NLMA’s executive director, now meets all the incoming IMG’s as they begin practising in the province. “I spend a little bit of time talking about the association and related program, [but] I usually spend a lot more time answering questions.”Typically, there’s confusion aboutthe t e r m s a n d c o n d i t i o n s o f w o r k i ng arrangements, such as on-call hours and working hours. “When we sit down there are usually a lot of questions, particularly when it comes to call. It’s such an evolving issue.”The IMGs a r e then adv i s ed that they will be contacted by a preceptoronce they start practising. So far, more
than 60 physicians in 19 communitieshave volunteered as preceptors.
“Some [IMGs] never had any intention of practising here long term, but a significant number arrive with no fixed p l a n s , ” Smi t h e x p l a i n e d . “Th a t ’ s a group of physicians that we would very
much like to attract to this province and keep for as long as we can.”
Smith said first impressions are lasting ones, so the issue is resolved for those wanting to leave. NO longer do they want to hear “We talked to several people who had a l r e ady de c ided to
leave and they had been here for less than 3 months.”
Negative factors can include education opportunities and accommodation. “One of the things we were told was that if, for instance, you spend a hundred bucks and put some soap and towe l s i n t h e s e p l a c e s b e f o r e s ome o ne shows up, it can make a huge difference. It gives you the impression that
you’re wanted, as opposed to just another body passing through.” Dr. Robert Young, registrar of the
Newfoundland Medical Board, estimates that there is a turn around of 100 foreign-trained physicians who arrive to practise in Newfoundland every year and the same number who plan to leave.

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