Manitoulin Health Centre partners with Island clinics to launch new physician recruitment plan

MANITOULIN—The Manitoulin Health Centre (MHC) has partnered with physician clinics in Mindemoya, Little Current, Gore Bay and Manitowaning, as well as the Island’s three Family Health Teams (FHT) (the Northeastern FHT, Manitoulin Central FHT and the Assiginack FHT) and Noojmowin Teg Health Centre to create a physician recruitment committee for Manitoulin.

“A new local approach to physician recruitment has been launched, involving multiple organizations from across the Island,” states a release from the MHC. “With several outstanding physician full-time vacancies remaining unfilled, coupled with future pressures (such as the potential for retirements in the not too distant future), the need to add greater supporting resources to recruitment has become apparent.”

MHC CEO Derek Graham explained that community involvement in physician recruitment isn’t a new concept, but that the collaborative approach Island-wide is new to Manitoulin.

“We have been fortunate to date with physicians coming to Manitoulin,” said Mr. Graham, “but this trend might not continue. What physicians are looking for with work, life balance is changing and the demographic of who is training to become physicians. It used to be mainly young males, now the majority are females at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM). Plus a lot of our current physicians are in the similar age group and could be transitioning to part-time or retiring in the next two to five years.”

“All these factors, combined with outstanding physician vacancy in three Island settings, have prompted us to begin efforts,” added Mr. Graham.

“A physician recruiter has been hired on a contracted basis to help with tasks like outreach contact efforts with candidate physicians throughout Ontario and helping to market the local opportunities of living and practicing medicine on Manitoulin in one of the many professional settings,” the release notes. “There are a growing number of vacant physician positions across Ontario, and competition between communities is the new reality. Historically, Manitoulin has enjoyed a favourable complement of family practice physicians, and vacancies have rarely been prolonged. This no longer appears to be true. The new reality is that communities must link resources together and truly ‘market’ their opportunities, incentives and lifestyle. It has been said that it takes a community to attract and retain a physician, with well over 500 family practice vacancies currently listed across Ontario, this has never been more valid.”

Mr. Graham clarified that the Manitoulin physician recruitment committee will be partnering with similar committees on the North Shore and Blind River which already have a recruitment officer in place.

“We will be sharing resources,” said Mr. Graham. “They currently have a recruitment officer in place, but that individual will be retiring this summer. Our approach is to hire a new recruiter who will train with the current individual. We have also been successful in feed money for training the new recruiter through the Trillium Foundation, which will flow through Blind River.”

The committee has begun reaching out across the Island to potential stakeholder groups such as municipalities, looking for funding, support and community representatives to sit on the committee.

A proposed budget for the recruitment program shows the MHC contributing $7,000 of the $30,000 budget, the Township of Assiginack contributing $3,000, the Northeast Town contributing $6,000, Central Manitoulin contributing $6,000, the Town of Gore Bay contributing $3,000 and other sources of revenue, $5,000.

“Currently Assiginack has approved a representative to sit on the committee and $3,000 towards the recruitment efforts,” said Mr. Graham, noting that the committee is still waiting to hear back from Central Manitoulin, Gore Bay and The Northeast Town. He noted as well that the United Chiefs and Councils of Mnidoo Mnising have been invited to elect a representative to the committee.