October 13, 2015

More Than 500 New Doctors Practising in Saskatchewan

Saskatchewan residents are benefitting from improved access to physicians with the addition of more than 500 new doctors since 2007.

“Our government made a commitment to recruiting and retaining more physicians in Saskatchewan, and we are seeing the results of those efforts,” Health Minister Dustin Duncan said.  “It wasn’t too long ago when hundreds of physicians and health care professionals were leaving the province.  I’m happy to see things are different now.”

In addition to the overall number of physicians increasing, the number of family physicians has increased by 23 per cent, and the number of specialists has increased by nearly 35 per cent.  Rural and remote communities in Saskatchewan have also benefitted from a stable number of physicians.  Since government created the physician recruitment agency Saskdocs, nearly 190 physicians have been recruited to practice in rural and remote communities.

“When we were elected in 2007, we knew that our government had a lot of work to do to get physicians back to rural and remote communities,” Rural and Remote Health Minister Greg Ottenbreit said.  “There’s still more to do, but through the work of Saskdocs, expansion of medical training seats, and innovative practice incentives, we’re finally seeing improvement and stability for these important communities.”

A number of physician recruitment and retention initiatives have resulted in the increase of physicians in Saskatchewan, including:

  • A competitive compensation package for physicians – one of the best in Canada.
  • The number of post-graduate physician training seats at the College of Medicine has doubled – to 120 – and the number of undergraduate medical education seats has expanded from 60 to 100.
  • The Rural Family Physician Incentive Program provides recent graduates with up to $120,000 over five years if they set up practice in a community with fewer than 10,000 people. 
  • Training more family medicine residents in sites outside Regina and Saskatoon (Prince Albert, Swift Current, La Ronge, North Battleford and Moose Jaw). 
  • Creating the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment (SIPPA) program to include physicians trained from a wider range of countries.
  • The Physician Rural Externship Program (PREP), that provides medical students with an opportunity for work experience in a rural community.
  • A rural physician locum pool, to provide additional physician coverage and assistance to rural family physicians.

Recently, the Canadian Institute of Health Information also recognized this increase in physician numbers:  Saskatchewan, along with Alberta, has shown the greatest growth in physician numbers among the provinces over the past five years.

For more information on physician retention and recruitment, contact the province’s physician recruitment agency at www.saskdocs.ca.