Tuesday, July 22, 2014

‘Promising prospects’ seen on doctor front

Riverside physician recruiter Todd Hamilton is making some headway to bring doctors to Rainy River District, with several “promising prospects” on the horizon.
“We have a lot to offer,” he told delegates at the Rainy River District Municipal Association’s annual general meeting Saturday in Barwick.

As previously reported, one physician (a former resident) is confirmed for this August. But Hamilton noted there are at least three others who have shown genuine interest in practising in this area.
“I also have 60-plus personal contacts with [medical students and residents], as well as licensed physicians currently practising in Ontario, out-of-province, and the United States,” he added.
One prospect is a U.S. physician who is waiting for licensing from the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. A second physician, who will be licensed in Ontario this May, has indicated interest in a two- to four-year commitment.
Both have had at least one site visit and have ties to North Dakota.
Meanwhile, a third prospect is a first-year medical resident who selected Fort Frances for their second-year residency. This physician is interested in practising here in June, 2014 and has many relatives in the area.
Hamilton said Riverside also has numerous locums booked for 2013.
Having been the physician recruiter since September, Hamilton updated municipal leaders on the efforts he’s taken so far in finding doctors, such as attending Health Force Ontario’s Health Professionals Recruitment Tour last fall.
This saw Hamilton, along with Riverside CEO Allan Katz and Dr. Jason Shack, visit all the medical schools in the province to talk to potential candidates, stopping at events in Thunder Bay, Ottawa, Kingston, Hamilton, London, Toronto, and Sudbury.
During 2013, Hamilton plans to visit the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada in Victoria, B.C. and the College of Family Physicians of Manitoba in Winnipeg.
He also will travel to Primary Care Today in Toronto, as well as to many U.S. medical schools with Canadian student programs.
And Hamilton will participate in the next recruitment tour hosted by Health Force Ontario, as well as continue to maintain contact with those students and physicians he’s been speaking with.
Hamilton has determined some trends over the past few months.
“Most second-year residents and working physicians express interest in two- to three-month locums only,” he noted.
“A two-year commitment is rare for a northern rural community.”
He added that work-life balance is essential as physicians want a life beyond their practice.
“Physician groups and a community-owned clinic with a Family Health Team is also essential,” Hamilton stressed.
“And they must have a connection to rural, remote, or northern areas or their spouse has a connection.”
Hamilton added physicians also are looking for diverse practice opportunities and opportunities for their spouse.
“We do offer opportunities for a diverse practice,” he remarked, noting Riverside also has an excellent physician group, professional staff, and state-of-the-art facilities.
“We also have great community support . . . in addition to affordable housing, services, and beautiful natural resources,” Hamilton continued, also citing access to international airports and the U.S. border as a benefit.
The incentives and initiatives offered are competitive with those in other parts of the country.
Hamilton said he’s spent many weekends and evenings communicating with potential prospects.
“They are typically busy during the day and don’t get to their computers until the evening,” he explained, noting many medical students text and e-mail.
He even has utilized social networking, with both a Facebook page and Twitter account.
To attest to the work Hamilton is doing so far, Katz noted Hamilton went above and beyond when a potential candidate from out west stopped in Fort Frances on New Year’s Eve and wanted a tour of the Riverside facilities.
“On short notice, Todd got everything in order and did the tour,” he enthused.
Katz also thanked the previous physician recruiter, Jackie Lampi-Hughes, for all of her hard work.
Hamilton stressed he is available 24/7 to speak with any prospects.
He can be reached at T.Hamilton@rhcf.on.ca or by calling 274-4581.

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