Kamloops short of MDs

"There's good news and there's bad news" is never something you want to hear from your doctor - it's not great to hear about your doctor, either.

As reported in Friday's Daily News, B.C. posted the largest increase in the number of physicians of all provinces in Canada last year - 5.1 per cent, one of the biggest year-on-year increases in provincial history.

In fact, going back to the year 2000, the number of doctors in our province has grown by
29 per cent - double the growth rate of the general population.

But those rosy numbers across the province don't translate so well here. There are an estimated 20,000 people in the Kamloops area without a family doctor, putting strain on the walk-in clinics and the emergency rooms year-round.

Witness the virtual stampede that happened when a family doctor opened a new office in Kamloops this spring, or the panic when the North Shore's only walk-in clinic closed its doors in June - a void that was thankfully filled by a new clinic that opened in August.

The fact is, while there may be more doctors than ever, the demand has increased even more - and for communities such as Kamloops, it's tough to attract them. The competition comes not only from larger centres like Kelowna and Vancouver with more amenities to offer, but also from small communities armed with rural incentives for family doctors.

Add to that the worldwide shortage of family doctors and recruitment of Canadian doctors from other countries like Australia and New Zealand, and it's clear that Kamloops is going to have to do more.

Thankfully, there's already a way for us to do that. Venture Kamloops' Red Carpet physician recruitment program handles inquiries from medical professionals and gives them a warm welcome to Kamloops and a package of services and offers from local businesses. It also provides local businesses and organizations the chance to help attract new medical professionals to Kamloops and welcome them when they arrive.

You can learn more about it at www.venture kamloops.com/rcpartnerregistration.htm.

We can't heal our doctor crisis ourselves, but we can apply some first aid to our community.

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