P.E.I. saw a big increase in the number of doctors it recruited in 2021, and a new partnership between the Department of Health, Health P.E.I. and the Medical Society of P.E.I. is getting the credit.
The Physicians Recruiting Physicians program was launched at the end of 2020, and it sees the province paying P.E.I. doctors to spend time recruiting other doctors to come to the Island.
Nephrologist Dr. Michael Girsberger and his wife anesthetist Dr. Sandra Jadin, two of the doctors who began work on the Island last year, said the welcome extended by local doctors certainly had an impact on them.
"The first thing that Sandra said to me when we arrived at the Charlottetown Airport was 'Welcome home, Michael.' We immediately connected with P.E.I.," said Girsberger in a news release.
"It was great to get to know the people here on P.E.I. during our visit, and working with the recruitment team made the decision to move to P.E.I. an easy one."
Forty doctors were recruited in 2021, a 55 per cent increase over the previous year. Of those, 31 began practising on the Island last year and nine will start this year. There were 13 family physicians, a pressing need given the growing number of Islanders waiting for a doctor on the patient registry: five in Queens region, four in East Prince and two each in West Prince and Kings.
Thirteen doctors left Health P.E.I. last year, a combination of retirements and leaving the province, for a net gain of 27 doctors.
Dr. Megan Miller, the chief physician recruiter for the Medical Society of P.E.I., told CBC News her team recognizes the province's pressing needs, particularly for family doctors.
"There are big labour shortages in some of these areas of medicine right across the country," said Miller.
"We absolutely know where we are with the registry. That's concerning for everybody on our team. When we think about that, that really motivates us to do the best work that we can."
Physician recruitment is very competitive, she said, and her team continues to try to come up with innovative and creative ways to make P.E.I. a preferred destination for doctors.