The New Brunswick Medical Society says the province has to intensify recruitment efforts if it wants more doctors to live and work in New Brunswick.

The 25 new doctor positions announced on Friday are "a good step," said Dr. Dharm Singh, the president of the society, but more has to be done to attract and keep physicians in the province.

Especially, he added, to combat the family doctor shortage and reduce the number of people going to emergency rooms for non-emergencies.

"New Brunswick is competing with other Canadian jurisdictions for recruitment and retaining doctors," he told Information Morning Moncton.

"We have to be more innovative in our recruitment efforts."

'An innovative approach'

One effort that has attracted interest from some young doctors is the team-based approach to family medicine that was introduced last June.

This model, developed by the medical society and the provincial government, pools together doctors who live and work near each other. The doctors each have their own patient lists, but they can share patient data and look after the patients of a team member who is away.

"Younger generations of family doctors — they want to work in a team, they want to work in a collaborative practice, they want to use technology in their practice."

'We are very optimistic with this and we are really getting a lot of inquiries from young, training doctors. They are excited about this new model.' — Dr. Dharm Singh

Singh said the first team was just set up in Oromocto, outside Fredericton, and promises a better work-life balance for young doctors, he said.

The ease of booking and cancelling appointments online is also attractive to patients, he said.

The team approach could help some 20,000 New Brunswickers without a family doctor finally get access to one — whether during regular hours, after hours or on weekends, Singh said.

In time, this could reduce the waiting times in emergency rooms, he said.

"It is good for the patient and it is good for the younger doctor and recruitment also, because it gives a better work-life balance," he said.

"We are very optimistic with this and we are really getting a lot of inquiries from young, training doctors," Singh said. "They are excited about this new model."

With files from Information Morning: Moncton