Editor, The Times:
The Doctor Recruitment Committee met Tuesday morning to review recent progress in our efforts to attract family physicians to our community. It has been a long process and one that is fraught with painstaking effort and much patience.
If only we could hang a “help wanted” sign up at door and conduct one-on-one interviews but there are paths to follow and set guidelines that are in place to ensure a high level of standard.
The key partners involved in the process are Health Match B.C., the B.C. College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Immigration Canada. These three agencies are the primary points of contact involved in the recruitment and retention of foreign medical graduates. Recently, the process has been streamlined slightly. At one time the local medical staff was required to prove that we had been advertising for Canadian graduates over at least a six-month period before we could recruit abroad. Health Match BC has now assumed that responsibility and is often the point of first contact. They also serve as the vetting agency to ensure that potential candidates have the ability to meet Canadian and B.C. standards.
When physicians apply, they are required to provide background information to those three organizations. That includes a detailed account of pre-medical, medical, post-graduate, and continuing education. They must also produce original diplomas, and certificates of licensure from their previous workplaces. The B.C. College and Health Match B.C. ask the aspirant for disclosure of disciplinary actions and do their own independent searches for them as well. This approach can be frustrating for both the candidate and for the recruiters, but it is crucial in maintaining an acceptable standard of medical care.
The local Doctor Recruitment Committee has no influence on the time or methods taken for this trio of agencies to do their due diligence. It must rely on the integrity of the process to protect us from medical misadventure. Even after a doctor has gone through the initial screening, there is still a time of provisional acceptance. The Doctor Recruitment Committee will have done its work to make the physician and family feel welcomed into the Community. Members answer questions about Clearwater and its surroundings, provide advice when asked, and eventually help with accommodation and transportation. The committee is not in a position to exert influence over any regulatory body.
In the past, Dr. Soles has served in the position of ‘supervisor’ for three physicians. One was in Clearwater briefly. Two, from other communities, came here to help with weekend call. All three were under the sponsorship of Interior Health, and in each case underwent at least a year of paperwork and communication before landing in B.C. It becomes the responsibility of the supervising doctor to do interval evaluations and reports to the college.
By working in an underserved community such as ours and writing examinations that demonstrate English language fluency and medical competence, an applicant can eventually satisfy licensing requirements. The whole process can take as much as five years to complete.
For the past 11 months, the Doctor Recruitment Committee has been working with a physician from South Africa. We are hopeful that all the paperwork will soon be completed. It is as arduous for the applicant as it is for the community. This physician will be sponsored by Interior Health and supervised by Dr. Soles. The committee has been attentive to her questions and been very thorough in providing her with as much information about Clearwater as possible. If all goes well and the paperwork comes to an end, we will look forward to joining the community of Clearwater in extending a warm welcome to her and her husband.
Although the process is long, our community is fortunate to have strong advocates in place and a proactive team that works well with Health Match B.C. and we can take inspiration from neighboring communities like Chase who are achieving success with their recruitment efforts.
The Doctor Recruitment Committee