KW Chamber of Commerce looking to bring more doctors to region
The need for more family doctors was behind a showcase of Waterloo Region on Saturday.
The Greater Kitchener-Waterloo Chamber of Commerce is hosting its 24th annual family-emergency medicine resident tour for the weekend.
Third and fourth year medical resident students from all across Ontario filled the Communitech Hub in Kitchener for a special luncheon as part of the physician recruitment effort to entice more family doctors to either move or start their practice in Waterloo region.
"It's a real opportunity for us to not only showcase the practice opportunities for family doctors, but also the community as a whole," said Ian McLean, Greater Kitchener Waterloo Chamber of Commerce CEO. "We're selling a package of a place to raise their family, a place for them to grow their practice."
The event is organized by the Chamber’s Health Care Resources Council Family Physician Liaison Task Force.
It’s seen as a major recruitment initiative to positively engage young physicians, while promoting the community as a "welcoming, attractive, leading edge centre of medical excellence with promising practice opportunities."
According to the Ontario College of Family Physicians, 1.8 million Ontarians live without a family doctor, and more than 3 million living in the province could be without one by 2025.
McLean said the chamber is hosting 24 family medicine residents and six emergency medicine residents, along with their partners this weekend.
After talking to the guests, McLean said the chamber believes it's one of only a few regions in the country that provides this kind of opportunity for future family doctors.
The residents and their partners have been meeting high profile business and community leaders to learn more about the region's diversity and innovative spirit.
The chamber is offering to help find job opportunities for their partners through their business network, if the region turns out to be the place they’d like to call home.
McLean said that, while residents tour medical facilities to meet and speak with local family practitioners, their partners tour the community and have opportunity to explore employment opportunities with local business and community leaders.
"Most years, from this weekend alone we would recruit five to six, sometimes seven or eight of the doctors will decide to come here,” said McLean.
He added that, with more newcomers deciding to lay down roots in the region and many current doctors retiring, the need for additional doctors only continues to intensify.
Local community developer Jeff McIntyre said finding a family doctor will soon be a daunting task for him and his loved ones as well.
"I'm also concerned about people like myself who have been with the same doctor for a number of years and they're getting to the point where they're going to start retiring and I'm not exactly sure what the future is going to hold for me personally and my family,” he said.
Through collaboration with community partners, the chamber said it has helped recruit over 280 family physicians since 1998, when over 40,000 residents did not have access to a family practitioner.
The chamber adds that today, that number is estimated to be around 20,000.