Doctor recruitment initiative takes off
In an effort to recruit doctors to the area, the City of Cold Lake has instituted a physician recruitment incentive. “One of the challenges we have heard that makes a transition for doctors in coming to Cold Lake, is bridge income to get them started and settled in and place roots in our community,” said Mayor Craig Copeland. “For new doctors, and especially doctors new to Canada, it can be a challenge to get the credit they need to make the move to a new community.”
In an effort to complement the work done by Hearts for Healthcare and Alberta Health Services (AHS) recruiting staff, the incentive offers a $50,000 line of credit. With the help of the City of Cold Lake, the line of credit will be interest-free for two years. After that period, a repayment plan between the financial institution and the physician will be established. Further to the line of credit, other incentives are also included in the package that will assist the doctors in their transition to the community, such as access to loans and credit cards.
“With this help, we hope that new doctors can focus on getting established in the community,” Copeland said. The program is open to physicians that have a contract with AHS and who practice in the City of Cold Lake. “Some doctors coming in from overseas cannot secure a loan of this size without help,” added Copeland. “We want to provide that help, so they in turn can help our community.”
This approach is very flexible and help makes the physician feel welcome to the community. The doctor can put the funding where they needed it. For example, purchasing a home by way of a down payment – many of the physicians coming from other countries do not have a credit rating. The choice is up to the doctor, and some other possible uses include purchasing a vehicle, rent for clinic space, or purchasing start-up office supplies.
Since 2006, the availability of physicians in Cold Lake has been a priority for council. Despite an overall increase in physicians throughout rural Alberta, there has been no significant increase in the number of physicians in Cold Lake over the last ten years, because the number of physicians recruited has been offset by the number that has left.