Nova Scotia is struggling to recruit and retain physicians. Physicians across the province have serious concerns about their ability to practise medicine effectively in the current health-care environment. A fragile physician workforce means that more physicians are at risk of burnout and may reduce their workloads, seek opportunities elsewhere or retire early.
To get to the root of the challenges doctors are facing, Doctors Nova Scotia (DNS) representatives spent the spring of 2017 travelling the province. In that time, they spoke with 235 physicians at 29 meetings in 24 communities. (Find your community report here.)
The result of that community tour was a report titled Healing Nova Scotia: Recommendations for a thriving physician workforce. It synopsizes the highest priority issues identified in those conversations and offers recommendations on how to address them. It is the blueprint we can use as we build a better future for health care for all Nova Scotians.
The issues identified by physicians fall into five overarching themes:
- Fragility of the physician workforce
- Loss of professional autonomy and satisfaction
- Erosion of comprehensive family medicine
- Unsustainability of rural specialty services
- Lost opportunities to leverage technology
The report’s most important recommendation is to establish a Health System Physician Coordination Council, which will bring together physicians and key decision-makers from DNS, the Department of Health and Wellness (DHW), the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA), the IWK and Dalhousie Medical School. The council will identify and resolve problems, strengthening health care in a coordinated way. The first task will be to review, and act upon, the recommendations proposed by the province’s physicians.
The Executive Committee of the Doctors Nova Scotia Board of Directors presented this report to the Minister of Health, senior government officials from the DHW, and key leaders from the NSHA, IWK, Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine and College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia in September 2017.