Manitoba's physician population has gone up.

The province says its recruitment campaigns have resulted in a gain of 66 more physicians this year over last, bringing the total to 2,538 doctors.

That's an increase of more than 500 since 1999, according to recent registration statistics released by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba.

And that includes a record number of physicians practising in both Winnipeg and rural Manitoba, according to a news release from the government.

"More doctors in our province is great news for Manitoba families, as these new doctors will help provide timely access for specialized medical care in hospitals and also bring us closer to our goal of ensuring all Manitobans have access to a family physician by 2015," Health Minister Theresa Oswald stated in the news release.

She also noted the province has hired 11 new physician assistants over the last year.

The assistants are trained to perform a wide range of services including conducting patient exams, ordering diagnostic tests, undertaking minor procedures and prescribing needed medications and treatments, freeing up the phsyicians from those duties.

"Manitoba is the first province in Canada to develop a physician assistant program and Manitobans are reaping the benefits," Advanced Education and Literary Minister Erin Selby said at a news conference.

The University of Manitoba's physician assistant program began in 2008 and is the first of its kind in the country.

It takes in 12 students every year and most graduates, 85 per cent, have chosen to stay in Manitoba.