N.S. to offer med students incentive to stay

Dal med students say $4K a year not enough to convince them to move to a rural area.

                        

During its speech from the throne on Nov. 28, the Nova Scotia government announced a new incentive for medical school graduates who stay and work in province.
But some medical students say the modest tuition relief is unlikely to influence their career decisions.
Tuition relief 
The initiative will provide 25 new doctors with $4,000 in tuition relief per year for a total $16,000, in exchange for practicing in an under-serviced community in Nova Scotia for five years.
Is it enough?
Ellen MacDonald, a first-year medical student at Dalhousie University, says $4,000 a year in tuition relief would not be enough to change her plans.
According to the 2013-2014 Medicine and Dentistry Fee Schedule, medical students at Dalhousie University pay $16,600 a year in tuition.
Alyssa Patterson, first-year medical student at Dalhousie University. (Photo: Sara Leslie)

Alyssa Patterson, also a first-year medical student at Dal, notes that once you factor living expenses into the equation, $4,000 a year is somewhat trivial.

“For me personally, the money would only be a bonus if it was something I really wanted to do,” says Patterson.
Doctor shortage
The throne speech addressed the shortage of family doctors in rural areas across Nova Scotia, noting that the shortage often translates into additional strain on the province’s emergency rooms.
Barbara Johnson, a spokesperson for Doctor’s Nova Scotia, says Nova Scotia will need an additional 112 family doctors over the next 10 years in order to meet the needs of the public.
Other considerations 
There are a whole host of factors that could influence one’s decision to work in a rural area.  For instance, Patterson says a lot of students in her class have spouses whose jobs would also need to be considered when choosing where to live.
MacDonald says she likes the idea of living in a small community, but needs to stay close to Halifax in order to pursue a job in medical research.
Additional initiatives
Johnson says the details of the initiative have yet to be finalized and so there is no word yet as to how the 25 doctors would be chosen.
Tuition relief is just one of several new initiatives aimed at addressing the province’s shortage of family doctors. Johnson says a new family medicine residency program will also help recruit more doctors to rural communities across Nova Scotia.