Kentville Throws a Big Party. Yarmouth holds a lobster lottery. Glasgow offers furnished apartments.
The theme? We love you, new doctors!
Is appreciation a key to Nova Scotia’s doctor shortage?
How can Kentville show its 11 new doctors that they are very, very welcome? Well, it’s not through high salaries – Nova Scotia is currently dead last in Canada when it comes to doctor salaries. One solution Kentville is trying is a big celebration to honor the newcomers, a party at a casual but upscale cidery and taproom, with 500 townspeople in attendance to honor the 11 new medical specialists.
And that’s just one of the creative solutions the province is using to try to lure doctors to come and settle and work. Last year, provincial representatives attracted 18 new doctors, mostly family doctors, by attending physician job fairs in London and Dublin and talking up the province’s beauty, friendliness, and work-life balance. And local towns, like Kentville, are making special efforts to show their gratitude to the newcomers, providing help in house-hunting, childcare, and get-togethers. Yarmouth, meanwhile, which recently lost all but one of its anesthesiologists, drew attention at a national anesthesiologist convention with a lottery for free lobster for a year. Some lucky doctor is now getting eight lobsters a month, while Yarmouth garnered the names of 80 anesthesiologists – and can now try to attract a few to move and work there for good.
That kind of appreciation may be crucial to attracting and keeping some of the doctors that Nova Scotia so badly needs. In a province with a longstanding shortage of doctors — where well over 50,000 residents are waiting for a family physician, and therefore reliant on walk-in clinics or emergency rooms for basic care and referrals to specialists – intangible benefits like natural beauty, clean air, work-life balance, and, yes, plentiful lobsters and splashy welcome parties can be strong incentives to attracting and keeping new physicians. In facat, several studies in the UK and the US have shown that indicated that feeling appreciated and wanted tends to be considerably more important to employee happiness than higher salaries.
Are creative solutions a good way to recruit doctors to Nova Scotia? Or should the province simply offer significant salary raises? Or both?