St. Jacobs among the stops in pitch to young doctors

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Having visitors in from out of town? Chances are one of the stops on any tour of the area will include the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market. It’s no different for those hosting a group of medical residents in an effort to sell them on setting up practices in Waterloo Region.

The market is one of the locales that’ll be featured in this weekend’s “Annual Family Emergency Medicine Resident Weekend” hosted by The Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce. The recruitment tool is now in its 20th year.

The business organization will be shepherding 16 medical residents and four emergency medicine residents and their partners to a variety of Waterloo Region locations, looking to sell them on the benefits of moving here and setting up shop. It’s not just about opportunities for the doctors, but about promoting the quality of life issues for the whole family.

“We’re not only recruiting the doctor, but we’re also recruiting the family and their partner,” said Ian McLean, president, and CEO of the local chamber. “On the physician side, we show them the practice opportunities, the research opportunities, the hospitals, so the medical side of things. For the partners, we will show them the community, cultural amenities, neighbourhoods, and the rural divide.”

“The weekend is a wonderful opportunity for these first and second-year family medicine residents to get better acquainted with the community and our health care facilities,” added Mark Christensen of WalterFedy, chair of the organizing committee, in a release.

The weekend will showcase the St. Jacobs Farmers’ Market, the Delta Hotel, the Grand River Hospital, and the Communitech Hub at the Tannery, to name a few.

Due to medical investments in the community such as the School of Pharmacy at the University of Waterloo and the School of Medicine in Kitchener, run in conjunction with McMaster University, many visitors will have some experience with the Region of Waterloo in previous medical training.

Given some upcoming challenges, including an aging base of current practitioners, recruiting new physicians is always a priority, says McLean.

“More doctors are starting to retire,” he explained. “So when a doctor retires, it usually now requires a doctor and a half to replace their patient loads, because many of the new doctors are not taking the same types of patient loads.

Frankly, there are not many new doctors that want to take on a patient load of 2,000 or 2,100, which is what many of the older doctors and retiring doctors would have.”

Other challenges include a growing population in the area, though that increases the number of job opportunities for doctors.

The chamber has helped to recruit more than 200 family physicians since beginning its efforts in 1998 when 40,000 residents did not have access to a family practitioner. Currently, the number of residents now looking for a family doctor is estimated to be around 20,000.

“We have a lot of appeal here,” said McLean of his pitch to medical residents. “Our job as a catalyst for this program is to make sure that we showcase what this region has to offer regarding housing, setting, schooling, practice opportunities, job opportunities for spouses, and really showcase what Waterloo Region is in terms of living, work and play.”

The weekend is supported through the corporate and municipal investment in Chamber Health Care Resources Council programs and initiatives.

The recruitment weekend begins tomorrow at 3 p.m., with the majority of the tour taking place on Saturday before wrapping up on Sunday.

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