Kentville fetes new nurse practitioner as part of new recruitment strategy

"You feel like you're needed in the community and people want you to be here," new recruit says.

'You feel like you're needed in the community and people want you to be here,' new recruit says

Matthew Stacey and Jacqueline Green were lured to move from Nunavut to Kentville, N.S., so Green could work as a nurse practitioner in the town. (David Laughlin/CBC)

When Jacqueline Green and her husband, Matthew Stacey, decided it was time to leave their lives in the North, they knew they were taking a big leap.

But after three days of being wined and dined by people in Kentville, N.S., they know now there's no turning back.

"You feel like you're needed in the community and people want you to be here. It really helps," said Green, a nurse practitioner who is moving from Rankin Inlet, Nunavut, to start working in the Centennial Professional Centre in May.

Kentville Mayor Sandra Snow gives the new nurse practitioner a welcome basket at a party held Monday night. (David Laughlin/CBC)

Recruited by NSHA

Green was recruited by the Nova Scotia Health Authority, and then the community stepped in to make sure she wouldn't change her mind.

She's the first health-care professional to receive an over-the-top welcome, which is all part of a new effort to recruit and retain workers to the area.

Kentville has largely avoided the province's doctor shortage, but eight months ago, a wave of retirements began. Mayor Sandra Snow said they are now short seven or eight family physicians.

"All of a sudden with these retirements, people are concerned, they've had the same doctor for 40 years," said Snow. "We're going to welcome them with open arms."

Community tour

On Monday, Snow gave Green, Stacey and their two daughters a lengthy tour of the community, showing them schools, walking trails and the recreational facilities.

"When people come to town and they're making big decisions about where to buy a house, sometimes knowing ... the environment around you really helps you make a decision," said Snow.

After the tour, clinic owner Maresa Davidson took over, hosting a party to introduce the couple to dozens of people in the community.

Davidson served local wine and food, while town officials presented the pair with a welcome basket.

"We are all working very hard to fill in the gaps of general practitioners, and it's a big score for us actually," said Davidson.

Communities working with recruiters

The concept of communities working closely with recruiters has proven successful in other towns across the country.

Goderich, Ont., credits the partnership for establishing its complement of 18 doctors.

British Columbia has created a layer of recruiters specifically at the community level.

Green will help treat patients who are already at the clinic, but the health authority said her arrival is just the first this year. At least one more nurse practitioner will be setting up shop in Kentville, and the health authority said the new recruits will start to take on patients from the province's need-a-doctor wait-list.

Flabbergasted by welcome

Green and Stacey say they're flabbergasted by the welcome, and it's made them confident that they've made the best decision for their family. They're encouraging other towns to follow suit as they recruit health professionals.

"You're not going to get that from just a health authority," said Stacey. "Having the community engaged and help welcome it really makes a huge difference. And I think it's actually more of a difference than the financial compensation thing."

Green said the best part was to see how her kids reacted to the royal treatment, and spending a day with the mayor.

"My daughter was like 'Oh, I want to be a police officer and a mayor when I grow up.'"

About the Author

Carolyn Ray

Videojournalist

Carolyn Ray is a videojournalist who has reported out of three provinces and two territories, and is now based in Halifax. You can reach her at Carolyn.Ray@cbc.ca