AUTHOR(S) & CREDENTIALS: Norma Chino, Knowledge Broker at the APPTA Hub and AGE-WELL NCE. (Author of The Briefing Note: Physician Recruitment and Retention in the Atlantic Provinces) and Cassy Hemphill, Communications and Engagement Coordinator at the APPTA Hub and AGE-WELL NCE (Author of Idea Blog). 

CITATION FOR 2022 PHYSICIAN RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION IN THE ATLANTIC PROVINCES: MacMillan, KM., Roberts, S., Rainnie, AS., Ko, KR., Lee, W., Beals, M., Kent, S., Noel, MD., Arora, G., Orovec, A., Ley, M., Lee, F., Long, C. (2022). Physician Recruitment and Retention in the Atlantic Provinces. A publication by the Canadian Federation of Medical Students Atlantic Task Force. Retrieved from 

AFFILIATED INSTITUTION(S): Dalhousie University, Memorial University Faculty of Medicine, Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS), Centre de Formation Médicale du Nouveau Brunswick and AGE-WELL National Innovation Hub: APPTA. 

Atlantic provinces have some of the highest proportions of older adult populations in the country. With that comes a higher need for health care system use as the likelihood for development of chronic conditions and other diseases increases. The current shortage of physicians in the Atlantic provinces, critical need for health care providers in rural areas, and lack of recruitment and retention efforts, poses a threat to keeping pace with the increasing trajectory of health care needs of the population. 

Did you know that 73% of physicians finishing postgraduate education in 2012 stayed in the same province of their postgraduate education in 2014? 

On December 2nd, 2022, we at APPTA hosted a special lunch and learn session with the Atlantic Task Force for Physician Recruitment and Retention who undertook work in 2019 to develop a toolkit informed by Atlantic-based medical students and professionals. We partnered with a group of medical students in Atlantic Canada who led a task force to survey preferences and experiences related to recruitment for their future positions as physicians. We hosted a session with provincial recruiters, physicians, funding agencies, and other medical students in which the task force leads presented on their toolkit, which brings forward recommendations from the medical student perspective. 

The briefing note Physician Recruitment and Retention in the Atlantic Provinces summarizes the work of the Canadian Federation of Medical Students – Atlantic Task force. The briefing note highlights recommended strategies and areas where provinces, specifically rural communities, could direct their efforts to attract and retain physician candidates in any stage of their medical career: pre-medical, medical, residency and post-residency. 

There are three major areas in which the medical students wished to inform policy decision makers at both the regional and provincial level: 

  1. Communication and information access 
  1. Support for rural regions 
  1. Recruitment and retention strategies 

Along with the following three areas listed above, the toolkit also provided recommendations specific to recruitment strategies in each stage of an individual’s medical training and career, the recommendations were as follows: 

  1. Pre-Medical School 
  • Need for outreach at the high school and university level to promote continuing education and medical practice.  
  • Need for rural family physicians who integrate into their communication to serve as important role models for would-be physicians. 
  • Need for greater financial support and meaningful policy changes to increase the number of rural applicants. 
  1. Medical School 
  • More effort to ensure an appropriate fit between students and placement communities to improve student experiences. 
  • Increase in financial incentives, such as direct grants, return of service bursaries and loan repayment programs after completion of training. 
  1. Residency 
  • Exposure to high quality training experiences. 
  • Longer rural rotations. 
  1. Post-Residency 
  • Provincial programs that focus on all stages: recruitment, matching, preparation, monitoring and continued support to retain staff in rural areas. 

All in all, adequate housing, partner employment, access to childcare facilities, workplace support and financial incentives are all important protective factors to physician burnout from the usually high workloads found in rural settings. 

Click the link and read the briefing note for more details on recommendations:

Watch the presentation: