New doctors grace 100 Mile House

Rural recruiting group attracts medical professionals

Two new doctors were warmly welcomed to the 100 Mile House medical-care community in the past year or so.

The Central Interior Rural Division of Family Practice (CIRDFP) has been working hard on recruitment and retention of health-care professionals.

CIRDFP executive director Trevor Barnes notes it has successfully enticed two physicians to join the community – both from South Africa since late 2013.

One of them is Dr. Michael Mthandazo who joined the Exeter Medical Clinic last spring. (The other name is unavailable, as Barnes was unable to gain permission to publish it.)

Dr. Mthandazo says he is happy to have joined the South Cariboo community as one of its newest physicians, and grateful to the people at CIRDFP for their assistance.

“They did help me a lot when I settled in here. When I came, the accommodation was organized, the rental car was organized – they were very helpful.”

The CIRDFP is one of seven Divisions of Family Practice in the Interior Health region and one of 33 across the province.

In addition to various roles supporting rural health care, such as its A GP for Me program that recently ran workshops in 100 Mile House, it serves an important role in recruitment and retention of medical professionals.


How it works

Barnes explains staff follow-up on online hits at British Columbia’s Health Match website that posts vacancies, and then they contact the doctors in their home countries to discuss local community attributes, determine interest in these areas and send links to related information.

One key role of its on-the-ground liaison people is maintaining e-mail contact with any doctors considering relocating to the region and answering any questions they can while persuading and encouraging them to choose to come to 100 Mile House or Williams Lake, he adds.

Barnes says immigration paperwork and approval sees staff actively assisting potential recruits, and once a physician has successfully immigrated, CIRDFP does its “red carpet visits” – meeting them at the airport, helping them and their families get settled, and welcoming them to their new location.

This often includes everything from arranging social events and bank appointments to helping them find a suitable residence, school and day care, he adds.

“When we are recruiting a physician, we are also recruiting that person’s family, so they come to a new community with all the same concerns as we would have.”

Barnes notes doctors with jobs lined up are accepted into Canada on a three-year term.

There are requirements they must meet with the College of Physicians and Surgeons and College of Family Physicians, ensuring their practice meets provincial standards.


Mentors, funding partners

Barnes says new doctors are matched with a local physician who works with them as a mentor.

Noting CIRDFP’s office is now in 150 Mile House, he says it currently has 47 general practitioner members who work on various committees. One of them is in Tatla Lake, with the rest from 100 Mile House or Williams Lake.

Barnes adds infrastructure funding for CIRDFP comes through Doctors of BC, but the local program is unique in B.C. for its partnership with the Cariboo Regional District, which funds part of its program.

“The contract expires Dec. 31, 2015 and we are hopeful we will be able to continue past that date with the regional district.”