Shaping our Physician Workforce




Updated November 2014

The Department of Health and Wellness has continued to work with its partners to plan for the right number, mix and geographic distribution of physicians to meet the health care needs of Nova Scotians. Taking a provincial approach to planning allows us to be more strategic, and helps to ensure we're aligned with the many other initiatives underway within our health care system.  It's important to remember that this is a planning tool, and not a prescription.

The Provincial Advisory Committee composed of senior leaders of our partner organizations have continued to advise the Department on the overall implementation of physician resource planning and contributed to the ongoing work.

A Medical Education Working Group with representatives from Doctors Nova Scotia, the District Health Authorities, the IWK, the Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine and our colleagues from the Department of Labour and Advanced Education developed principles to guide recommendations for the annual entry numbers and mix of physicians into the national CaRMS postgraduate match. It  has made specific recommendations for the 2014 and 2015 CaRMS match process to better align the Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine postgraduate training capacity with the anticipated needs of the province. We know that in order to succeed, ongoing communication with physicians and with medical students is critical. To that end, the Medical Education Working Group has been providing updates to medical students and residents to help guide career choices. We are supportive of the development of a National Future MD website will provide up-to-date information for those interested in careers in medicine and those in medical training who are making career decisions.

We are planning for the long term, and need input at every stage so we can share perspectives and adjust our course as needed.

We are updating the data we're working with, and expect to have a more accurate snapshot of our workforce in the next several weeks. We have updated the consultants initial data on the physician workforce to reflect the situation in 2011 – 2012. Plans continue to create a comprehensive approach to updating the physician roster, to assist with forecasting models and ensure accurate comparisons.  The original report, Physician Resource Planning: A Recommended Model and Implementation Framework was prepared by Social Sector Metrics Inc., and Health Intelligence Inc. and reflected the 2009 – 2010 year.

Membership of the Recruitment Action Team was expanded to include a public member and a representative of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. There was focused discussion and recommendations are forthcoming to inform the commitment to a Tuition Relief Program that was ?developed to encourage recent graduates to establish practice in Nova Scotia.  Physicians looking for information about employment opportunities in Nova Scotia have the benefit of an updated website. It offers much more comprehensive information and an improved format, providing full readable access from mobile devices.  More work will be done to include other health professionals so there's one stop shopping for health human resources. 

To ensure new physicians being appointed in the districts match community needs, and strategically align with our physician resource plan, a new physician appointment review process was established and has been enhanced to ensure integration of planning from Primary Health Care, Partnerships and Physician Services, and Acute and Tertiary Care Branches.

We are developing parameters for supporting succession planning whereby senior experienced physicians can provide mentorship and support for those entering practice when they move towards retirement.

Our Collaborative Care Framework is helping districts develop their short and long term primary health care plans. Twelve new providers will be working in seven sites, and additional funding is being provided to support 14 existing teams.

We are also taking steps to better align our physician planning services with several other initiatives underway including planning for clinical services, the mental health and addictions strategy, critical care and palliative care, among others. 

We have established an emergency coverage program and we're working on expanding our return-of-service agreements, which provides funding for medical education for family physicians locating to communities of need.

Working with with Doctors Nova Scotia and District health Authorities, we have created a framework for geriatric medical services for the province. It will guide the creation of a provincial mode for geriatric medical services.

Nova Scotia continues to be an active participant in national physician resource planning stage. In fact, this province was one of three models showcased during the national technical session on physician planning held in December 2012 and at the National Physician Resource Planning Task Force meeting in June 2014. 

We are hard at work reshaping our workforce. We are confident that our progress will continue, so that Nova Scotians in all areas of the province receive the care they need, when and where they need it.