As the backlog of patients in need of a family doctor continues to grow, along with job vacancies, could part of the issue be generational?
That’s what Doctor Alan Ruddiman thinks.
He is the co-chair of the standing committee on rural issues and runs a practice in the South Okanagan.
“Younger graduates are very very outspoken on that issue, they are simply not willing to work as hard or as generously as the traditional physicians who might have worked 60, 80, 100 hours a week. The younger folks are very very clear that they want to work very hard and they are committed to practice when they are working, but they are very clear about protecting their own private and social time.”
Ruddiman adds it could now take two family docs to service a community, compared to one in the past.
There are currently 319 job vacancies for permanent family physicians across BC.
The Provincial Government made a commitment back in 2010 to match every person with a primary care physician who wanted one by 2015.
There are still 200,000 people in this province without one.
Now, another question is are nurse practitioners being fully utilized to fill the gap left by the family doctor shortage in BC?
Stan Marchuk, President of the BC Nurse Practioner’s Association, doesn’t think so.
While doctors have incentives to work in rural communities negotiated into their collective agreements, Nurse Practioner’s are non-unionized, and offered zero incentives.
“I think there is some great opportunity for us to be able to look to see how we could improve upon that, but not always things that are monetarily rewarded. I think that Nurse Practitioners need to work alongside others professions to gain the capacity to service a community.”
There are 330 licensed NP’s in the province right now.
They have a master’s degree in nursing, and a larger scope of practice.
NP’s can diagnosis, treat, and prescribe medicine for a wide range of acute and chronic diseases.