The BC Government is unlikely to meet its goal of matching every patient in BC with a family doctor by the end of the year.
While more than double the number of medical school graduates are choosing family practice, there are still hundreds of job vacancies.
President of Doctors of BC, Dr. Bill Cavers, says in 2002, only 23% of grads chose family practice.
It’s now at 40%.
“Family practice wasn’t seen to be valued or appreciated. The collaboration that we’ve had with the ministry and health authorities has changed that around.”
Yet John Mabbott with Health Match BC says there are currently 319 vacancies for permanent family physicians.
He says their agency is doing the best they can, recruiting more than 200 new doctors every year.
“Put it into perspective, UBC is graduating around 280 doctors a year, so it is almost as good as UBC in terms of producing new doctors for the system.”
He says it’s tough to keep up with retirements and population growth.
More than 200,000 people are still without a family physician.
One of the rural communities struggling the most right now with health care is Chetwynd, in Northeastern BC.
There is a brand new medical clinic, but no permanent doctors to work there.
John Mabbott says Health Match BC is working on it.
“We are actively recruiting for Chetwynd. Chetwynd is one of the designated communities that we have for the next round of your practice ready assessment program, so we are looking at filling at least one position in Chetwynd, starting in the fall.”
All four current doctors are leaving this summer.
Chetwynd will be forced to rely on temporary locums until more permanent doctors move to town.
If you’re a new doctor willing to work in a small town, the provincial government says there is still bonus money in the piggy bank for you.
A few years ago it launched the $100,000 incentive program to encourage doctors to work in rural communities.
Funding is still accessible for four outstanding towns.
The Ministry of Health says the program is being reviewed to determine if it should be renewed.