The province will spend $181 million to recruit 200 medical resident grads into general practitioner jobs over three years, Health Minister Adrian announced in Vancouver Sunday.
The doctor shortage has swept up much of B.C.; in Surrey, 78,000 people are without a primary care practitioner and in Chilliwack, one-quarter don’t have one.
“I’m optimistic that working in teams of doctors, of nurse practitioners, of registered nurses… working together, can provide care,” said Dix.
The teams the province announced earlier this week will link doctors and other healthcare works into regional “primary care” networks to address doctor shortages, to streamline the referral process, and to provide patients with better support.
Dix said that creating these 200 jobs for recent graduates would encourage them to stay in B.C., rather than find jobs elsewhere.
“It’s very challenging, especially if you’ve come out with a student debt, to set up a family practice,” said Dix.
“If you’re asking someone to go out, start their own small business, find their own panel of patients, perhaps borrow money to start that and then set up their practice, that’s a limitation.”
Primary care networks are currently being rolled out in Burnaby, Comox Valley, Prince George, Richmond and the South Okanagan-Similkameen region, with plans for another 15 communities, including Surrey, in the works for the next year.
Dix said that the networks, and doctors hired for them, were being rolled out slowly to tailor-make solution for each community.
By 2021, the province has pledged to set up networks in 70 per cent of B.C.’s communities.