Return of service arrangements

Return of service arrangements

Residents, physicians and medical students are encouraged to discuss options with Doctors Nova Scotia (DNS) before committing to a return of service agreement.

The provincial Department of Health and Wellness (DHW) has made certain financial incentives available to residents, physicians and medical students. These incentives require a return of service (ROS) commitment to the province of Nova Scotia. We encourage you to contact DNS if you are considering one of these incentives, as there are some factors that should be considered before you make this commitment. For example:

  • The DHW has final decision-making authority in terms of where you complete your ROS. You must be prepared to accept a placement wherever they deem there is a need for physicians – which could be anywhere in the province.
  • If your ROS commitment arises from acquiring a residency seat, the DHW, in consultation with Nova Scotia Health, has the ultimate authority over your clinical deliverables. Discussion of these clinical deliverables does not take place until your residency is almost complete. If DNS is not automatically involved in those discussions, please invite us into those conversations, as you have the right to be represented by us as you negotiate your deliverables.
  • Committing to an ROS agreement will affect your independent decision-making in terms of your location of practice, type of practice and payment model. If you desire flexibility in practice, these incentives may not be for you.
  • The current eligibility and implementation guidelines may or may not be applicable by the time you start your practice. This means:
    • If you are deciding to come to Nova Scotia based on an assumption or assurance that you will be eligible for an ROS, please contact us first, as this may not actually be the case.
    • If you are planning to sign an ROS based on the terms of the ROS agreements currently in effect in Nova Scotia, please contact us first, as those terms may change before you begin practice.
  • Accepting an incentive restricts your options in entering an agreement with any other party that might offer recruitment incentives (including municipalities). The DHW ROS must be fulfilled first, and any other ROS cannot run concurrently.
  • The ROS obligation can be lengthy (three to five years) and, since the ROS funds are fully taxable, the after-tax funding you receive may be much less than you would expect for the length of the ROS obligation.

Doctors Nova Scotia encourages anyone considering an ROS incentive to discuss their options with DNS before signing an agreement.

Residents, physicians and medical students are encouraged to contact Doctors Nova Scotia before signing a return of service agreement with the province, as such agreements may impact their payment model as well as where and how they are able to practise medicine.


Jennifer Girard
Physician advisor (Zone 4-Central)
Ryan Brown
Physician advisor (Zones 2-Northern and 3-Eastern)
Noelle Moulaison
Physician advisor (Zone 1-Western)