After completing her 12-week clinical field assessment in Port Hardy, Dr. Samra Nasir has moved to Campbell River to begin her family practice, and she couldn’t be happier.
As one of the 11 internationally-trained physicians for rural communities announced by the province this week, Nasir says she is looking forward to starting her practice and is thankful the process of being assessed went quickly and smoothly.
She had worked as a family doctor in both Pakistan and Saudi Arabia before arriving in Canada but says her credentials were checked and approved “quickly and efficiently” so she could open up shop here in B.C.
“I know others who have felt like they waited in suspense to see where their documents are going,” Nasir says. “I was so glad the system was transparent, followed posted timelines and was fast.”
Minister of Health Terry Lake says Nasir will open her practice after going through the Practice Ready Assessment-BC (PRA) program, which assesses internationally-trained physicians for practise here, which helps fill gaps in the system — especially in smaller, rural communities.
“This program not only ensures that qualified international doctors are working in rural areas where they are most needed, but the three-year return of service also provides stable access to care for patients,” says Doctors of BC president Dr. Charles Webb. “The partnership of Doctors of BC and the provincial government allows us to tackle rural recruitment and retention concerns in a strategic way that benefits patients, physicians and our health care system.”
As part of the program, international doctors wishing to practise in B.C. undergo what the government calls “a rigorous assessment process,” where they spend three months with a B.C. physician who evaluates their skills as they care for patients.
Physicians successfully completing the program commit to practise for at least three years in a designated rural community in need.
The PRA program has been extended through March 2018 to help bring even more internationally-trained physicians to our province’s rural areas, the provincial government says.
“The Practice Ready Assessment program is one of several ways we are strengthening health care in local communities, especially in rural and remote areas of the province,” says Lake. “Doctors in smaller communities provide a broad range of health care in their practices and hospitals that not only support the health and wellness of individuals, but the community as a whole.”
The new physicians, including Dr. Nasir, will start practising within the next month. It’s still unclear as to where in town Nasir will be practising.
Nasir was part of the second intake of international doctors in the program.
The first saw 14 doctors assessed in 2015 and placed in McBride, Hazelton, Quesnel, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John (two), Terrace, Castlegar, Lillooet (two) Invermere, Port Hardy (two) and Powell River.
Another 15 international medical graduates will be assessed during the spring and fall of this year.
Two more cohorts are planned to be assessed next year.