Connecting physicians to opportunities

More than 100 family medicine opportunities in 26 communities posted on HFOJobs

Physician recruitment is a top health workforce priority.

While health care has evolved significantly over the past decade, HealthForceOntario Marketing and Recruitment Agency’s focus continues to support Northern Ontario communities to reach health workforce goals.

Earlier in 2017, HealthForceOntario surveyed stakeholders from across Northern Ontario on their health workforce priorities and heard back from more than 60 hospitals, primary care organizations and community representatives and recruiters.

It was not surprising to find 56 per cent of respondents identified family physician recruitment as their community’s top health workforce priority.

“Fifty per cent of doctors practising in our community are near or at retirement age,” wrote one respondent.

Across Northern Ontario, there are currently more than 100 full-time family medicine opportunities in 26 different communities posted on HFOJobs – HealthForceOntario’s job portal for health professional employment. These opportunities represent a wide-range of attractive practice and lifestyle options that include rural comprehensive practices, working as part of interprofessional teams, and providing care to Indigenous populations.

One of the agency’s goals is to best match physician recruits and their interests to community need. Any physician interested in practising in Northern Ontario can contact HealthForceOntario for information on practice incentives and to be directly connected to communities.

HealthForceOntario locum programs also give physicians the opportunity to “test-drive” practising in a particular community before signing on permanently.

This gives both the physician and the community a chance to see if there is a good fit before agreeing to a longer-term commitment.

As part of the agency’s annual survey, northern communities were asked whether they thought health workforce planning and recruitment would be easier or more difficult going forward. Fewer than five per cent thought it would be easier with upcoming physician retirements cited as the most common future challenge.

This was something that HealthForceOntario has heard in past years as well. Last year, the agency launched succession planning guides to help physicians transition out of practice smoothly. It also established a service to connect retiring physicians to medical residents and new graduates.

With generational differences in practice and lifestyle preferences between retiring physicians and recent graduates, this continues to be an area of focus for HealthForceOntario and a priority for many communities.

Workforce planning and recruitment can be challenging. Marketing and connecting with qualified candidates were identified as being difficult by 76 per cent of survey respondents. HealthForceOntario responds to this challenge through Practice Ontario, which markets northern physician job opportunities at all six of Ontario’s medical schools.

Survey results also showed new areas emerging for the agency to provide support, with 81 per cent of respondents reporting difficulties identifying and implementing alternative models of care. The results of this survey allow the agency to plan its services going forward in a way that best meets the needs of communities.

HealthForceOntario received a 96 per cent satisfaction rating from Northern Ontario stakeholders in its 10th anniversary year.

“Keep up the good work…we need you in our communities, especially in northern and rural communities for all the programs you offer,” commented one survey respondent.

Still, there is significant work to be done with hundreds of full-time and locum physician job opportunities in the north. The agency looks forward to continuing to support northern communities and showcasing and promoting all the north has to offer.

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