Nova Scotia is Looking for Doctors

Due to a constant shortage of family doctors, Nova Scotia plans to ease the immigration process for the doctors, who are internationally trained and already have a job offer. Lena Diab, the Immigration Minister confirmed the approval of this stream under the provincial nominee program, which looks for skilled immigrants.

According to Diab, the province has created this stream targeting doctors in the United States, Ireland, and the United Kingdom.

“It will be easier and faster because this stream targets family doctors from countries with recognized training equivalencies with the College of Family Physicians of Canada,” Diab said.

She also said that because of the stream, it would be easier to get rid of duplication by depending on assessments, which has already been completed by the Nova Scotia Health Authority and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia.

Faster Processing Time

The program would make the processing time faster for the doctors who already have exhibited training, which is similar to that in Canada and who already have the license from the province’s College of Physicians and Surgeons.

“It has significantly reduced processing times,” Diab said. “We can process an immigration application under this new stream in just five to 10 days.”

This is, no doubt a great improvement as previously it could take years to process. It’s also a part of a comprehensive recruitment strategy because the province is seeking ways to replace retiring physicians.

Dr. Jamie Tribo, currently living in Virginia, is the one has been processed through the new stream. Starting this spring, he intends to practice family medicine in Cape Breton.

Dr. Lynne Harrigan, vice-president of Medicine with the Nova Scotia Health Authority, said the initial target of this stream is to recruit a decent 12 doctors per year. However, the authority would try to enroll as many doctors as possible through this stream.

“We already have five on the ground and seven signing up so we are probably going to achieve or exceed our goal this year,” she said.

A Clinician Assessment for Practice Program was canceled by the College of Physicians and Surgeons in 2015 after the new national standards were put in place. Harrigan said their work is also to find a replacement for this assessment.

“That brought international medical graduates into Nova Scotia at a rate of about 10 to 15 per year,” said Harrigan. “That’s about 30 docs that we are down simply by the loss of that program, which is why we are beginning to focus on England and Ireland.”

She said the overall target is to recruit 110 doctors per year in order to overcome the shortages. Currently, there are 75 vacancies for doctors in the province, which is a raise from 66 listed in December.

“I think anything that makes it easier for physicians … to come into the country and practice is a positive step because it is really complicated,” said Kevin Chapman of Doctors Nova Scotia, who considers this new stream as a positive step.

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