Image credits: Faculty of Medicine, Memorial University of Newfoundland
On Tuesday, August 16th, the Government of NL announced the addition of 5 new seats for graduates from international medical schools to the Family Medicine Residency Program at the MUN Faculty of Medicine. Successful applicants can return to Canada to complete their residency training at Memorial University.
The Family Medicine Residency Program has 35 seats distributed across five streams— Northern, Eastern, Central, Western and Nunavut. Under the provincial government’s announcements, this system allows the program to provide a unique education to students regarding the specific communities of these regions. The five new medicine seats will be included in a new stream dedicated to international medical graduates. “Each stream in the Family Medicine residency program offers a unique rural and remote learning environment specific to the communities they serve. We hope these extra seats will help address physician recruitment and retention challenges in the province, particularly in rural and remote regions. It also represents another pathway for Canadian medical school graduates to return to Canada to practice,” commented Premier Andrew Furey.
According to the Dean of Medicine, Dr. Margaret Steele, “As the only medical school in the province, Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine plays an important role in supporting physician recruitment and retention. This expansion of our family medicine program will provide an opportunity to give hands-on experiences to Canadian citizens or permanent Canadian residents to complete their residency program in Newfoundland and Labrador with the goal that they remain here to practice,” said Steele.
This initiative is the latest from the provincial government, targeted towards addressing the shortage of healthcare workers in Newfoundland and Labrador—especially in the province’s rural communities. As the Minister of Health and Community Services Tom Osborne commented, “Providing this opportunity for residents may increase the likelihood that they may stay in the province to practice as a family physician upon graduation. We must continue to work together on creative solutions like this one in our efforts to attract and keep health care professionals.”
“Providing this opportunity for residents may increase the likelihood that they may stay in the province to practice as a family physician upon graduation. We must continue to work together on creative solutions like this one in our efforts to attract and keep health care professionals,” said Minster of Health and Community Services, Tom Osborne.
To address the growing physician crisis, the Government of NL has introduced several initiatives to promote the recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals.
In June 2022, Premier Andrew Furey announced the addition of 5 undergraduate seats for NL students at the Memorial School of Medicine. The New Family Physician Income Guarantee Initiative and the Family Practice Start-Up Program provide financial incentives for family physicians, ensuring new family physician billing works on a fee-for-service basis. As a result, upcoming family physicians will have a minimum income equivalent to that of a salaried family physician for the first two years of their practice.
In addition, the government will provide $100,000 to new practicing family doctors who work for five years. Compensation rates for physicians working in emergency rooms in small rural communities are temporarily increased until October 31st, 2022. There is also a one-year pilot program to encourage retired family physicians to return to medicine.
The President of Memorial University, Dr. Vianne Timmons, commented, “We thank the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador for providing the support needed to increase the number of medical residents which will benefit our communities. We know that these new family medicine residents will embrace Newfoundland and Labrador as their home and stay here to practice medicine in the long term.”
Successful Family Medicine Residency Program applicants will begin training on July 1st, 2023.