Is Nelson, as a community, doing enough to recruit new doctors?
Of course there are countless reasons for why Nelson would be an attractive place to call home for young and experienced doctors alike — but I only know that because this is where I had the fortune of growing up. During medical school a few of my colleagues and I came to Nelson and worked under some of the amazing docs that call our city home. They endured our often meandering interviews with patients and painstakingly slow procedure skills, all the while making sure patients received the attention they deserved. Unfortunately, other than those patients, I don’t think the rest of Nelson knew we were even there.
When we went to Rossland and Trail, on the other hand, both communities made efforts to welcome us with open arms. They hosted BBQ’s in the park, provided accommodation at a ski-chalet at Red, and truly gave us a chance to see their cities. They started recruiting us right from the beginning and made us feel welcome. Even McDonald’s took up the task, with “Welcome UBC Med Students” on their billboard below the golden arches. That might sound trivial, but I can assure you it had a lot of traction around the dinner table that night. We still all remember how important and wanted they made us feel.
Newly minted physicians have unmatched mobility in terms of where they can choose to work, so making a case for this city — and warmly embracing recruits — is essential. Nelson has so much to showcase for new physicians, but as far as I could tell, there was nobody designated to do it. The doctors who take on students and residents already invest countless hours during the workday. On top of that they would try to entertain us and invite us home for family dinners. Is it possible that the broader community in Nelson could pick up the evening and weekend shifts and show the students what the city is all about? It should be the easiest job in the world to show a bunch of keen, young, health-conscious students, most of whom are alone and away from home, what Nelson has to offer. It is host to great restaurants, a spectacular art and music scene, probably the most concentrated collection of complementary and alternative Medicine anywhere, and unlimited outdoor sporting activities; The Best Ski Town in North America should be an easy sell.
With the new UBC Medical School campus in Kelowna, Nelson is in a fantastic position to bring in more recruits and show off our incredible city. Doctors have always been protective of their patients and want to spare them the discomfort of the few awkward moments that we all created as medical students. But as patients, all of us are responsible for doing our part to train the next generation of doctors. So encourage your family doctor to bring in new students and residents if she or he does not already. At the same time, as a collective and engaged community, we can show them what a great city this is, and what an opportunity they would be missing if they did not come back.
Jim Grant, MD CCFP