New Brunswick saw number of doctors drop by 53 in 2015

While the number of physicians in Canada has grown for the ninth year in a row, New Brunswick has seen a decrease in the number of doctors.

New report shows province has second highest proportion of female doctors in Canada

Dr. Katelyn Mathers, who recently finished her residency, plans to establish her practice in Fredericton in January. (CBC)

While the number of physicians in Canada has grown for the ninth year in a row, New Brunswick has seen a decrease in the number of doctors.

New Brunswick had 53 fewer physicians in 2015 than the previous year, including 35 fewer specialists, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information in its 2015 report on physicians in Canada.

Economist Geoff Ballinger manages the data for the report and says the institute is waiting for next year's figures to see if New Brunswick's new recruitment strategy is paying off.

The provincial government announced in September it would be amalgamating recruitment efforts, rather than having multiple places trying to recruit physicians on their own.

"What's interesting this year is we've seen a drop in the number of physicians in the province," said Ballinger, reached at his Ottawa office. "Next year we will be interested to see if there is growth in the number of physicians in the province."

In 2015, New Brunswick had 222 doctors per 100,000 population, or roughly 1 for every 450 New Brunswickers. The Canadian average is 228 doctors for every 100,000 people.

High proportion of female doctors

The report goes on to say New Brunswick had the second-highest proportion of female doctors in Canada, tied with Ontario. Of New Brunswick's 1,674 doctors and specialists, 641 are female, which represents 38 per cent of the physicians in the province.

Dr. Katelyn Mathers says her cohort at medical school in Ottawa was about 60 per cent female, which is also a trend at New Brunswick's medical schools in Saint John and Dieppe.

Mathers says women physicians bring a lot to the table.

"I think that we can relate to our patients, especially female patients, quite well, and probably better than males can relate to female patients," she said. "And as we know, females use the medical system more than males for the most part, so that's a great relationship to be able to build."

Mathers will set up her own practice in January in Fredericton.

Most new doctors in Canada graduate with debts easily topping $100,000. Mathers is now adding in the cost of setting up practice.

"There are tons of expenses we have to take into account," she says as she ticks of lists of equipment, locations and staff.

Mathers should be happy to know the statistic saying the average clinical payment per physician continues to increase. In New Brunswick it is around $330,000 a year.