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Truro doctors taking a role in physician recruitment

Dr. Ryan Sommers, medical officer of health for northern Nova Scotia, and medical site lead at the Colchester-East Hants Health Centre, talked about physician recruitment efforts when he addressed Truro Town Council recently.
Dr. Ryan Sommers, medical officer of health for northern Nova Scotia, and medical site lead at the Colchester-East Hants Health Centre, talked about physician recruitment efforts when he addressed Truro Town Council recently. - Lynn Curwin

TRURO, NS – Local doctors are putting effort into recruiting new physicians for the area.

Ryan Sommers, a medical site lead at the Colchester-East Hants Health Centre and medical officer of health for northern Nova Scotia, addressed the issue of physician recruitment during a Truro Town Council meeting this week.

“The number of people (in Colchester County) reported not to have a family doctor is 2,000, but we know it’s higher,” said Sommers, speaking on the issue of physician recruitment. “That number doesn’t include most of the walking well, who don’t have their name on a list.”

Two family doctors in Truro, Steve McCarthy and Robert Graham, have announced they will retire this year, and others are expected to retire.

Sommers said about a dozen doctors got together last fall to look at what they could do to improve the situation.

“We feel there are a number of positives within the communities of Colchester County,” he said. “Obviously, our regional hospital; it’s a facility I’m very proud of. It’s providing a huge number of essential services for our population… People are amazed when I take them on a tour.”

He noted that he first came to Truro as a medical student, and the medical staff he worked with was one of the reasons he wanted to stay. He and his wife, who is also a doctor, also appreciated the other amenities in the community.

He recently met with four doctors from the UK who were visiting communities in Nova Scotia as they considered relocating. There have also been individual meetings with medical students, residents and practicing doctors.

“The next step is to host a focus group, hopefully within the next two weeks, and look at what we can do to promote the area to doctors,” said Sommers. “We need to assess and develop medical and community promotional products.”

The doctors will be working with local government, and business and community organizations.

Sommers said the Nova Scotia Health Authority is hiring nurse practitioners and family practice nurses for collaborative practices, allowing doctors to take on more patients.

“Some newer docs prefer to work in one of these,” he said.

Immediate needs are for family physicians, psychiatrists and internal medicine specialists.

“A message I want to get out to people is, if your physician is retiring, or you don’t have a doctor for any reason, call 811 and get your name on the list,” he added.

lynn.curwin@trurodaily.com

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