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Retired doctor pitches new strategy to recruit more doctors

New Brunswick has 84 positions open for physicians in the province

A retired doctor is arguing that he has the best way to recruit doctors to the province as thousands of New Brunswickers continue to wait for a physician.

The province has 84 positions open for doctors and that number will continue to grow as more physician retire.

The New Brunswick government unfurled its latest doctor recruitment strategy in September, but Dr. Donald Craig says he has a better solution.

Craig, who began practising medicine in 1968, is now pouring his energy into a scholarship-based medical education fund.

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He said this strategy will prove more effective in keeping young physicians in the province.

The New Brunswick Medical Education Foundation began offering scholarships in 2010 to students in the province's new medical school in Saint John.

Unlike most government programs that target the graduate, this program was aimed at the students for a very specific reason.

"When they're in school, they need the money. They really need the money. And we can latch on to our best students," Craig said.

"We're looking for our best students. And we're trying to get them early because by the time they get to the graduating phase, ready to come out and go to work, everyone's chasing them."

When the foundation was being constructed, Craig said they thought the provincial government would offer matching funds.

While the foundation raised $6 million, the provincial government only anted up $500,000. The initial results of the scholarship-based recruitment tool are positive.

1st doctors starting

This is the first year a recipient starting practicing in the province.

Dr. Catherine Becker was one of three students who received $48,000 in scholarships and she agreed to give back one year of service for each year of funding.

Becker is from Saint John and her husband is from Ontario. She admits she was leaning towards staying in the province, but the relationship and mentorship she had with people in the foundation, cemented the deal.

"We've purchased a home and started a young family, so I hope to be taking on my first family practice patients in about 18 months, and the goal is to be here in Saint John," she said.

All three sponsored students stayed in the province.

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