Province attempts to lure medical grads to rural P.E.I.

Lack of interest in the province's family medicine training sponsorship has prompted a change to the program.

Lack of interest in family medicine training sponsorship has prompted change to program

Lack of interest in the province’s family medicine training sponsorship has prompted a change to the program.

Earlier this year, the Health and Wellness Department offered up to three second-year medical students $110,000 toward their education if they committed to practice five years on P.E.I. after graduation.

The aim of the program is to entice new graduates of medical programs to work in rural P.E.I., something that has been a challenge for the Island.

But second-year students told the department it was too early to make that commitment.

An $80,000 sponsorship is now being offered to third-year students, for four years of practice.

"Students said we're really interested in the program, but maybe it's a little too early on for us to make that final decision to sign on at this point in time, so we made the decision to go back to third year medical students as a second round in the process," said Marney MacRae, manager of health recruitment and retention on P.E.I.

Dr. David Bannon, the president of the Medical Society of P.E.I., said it's hard to know whether this program will attract rural doctors.

"However you sweeten the pot to do it, you still have to deal with the same obstacles," he said.

"Many students in medical school now are viewing that type of practice as being less desirable as say, being in a big city or being in a place where you have a large number of partners that can support you and you can have a much more flexible schedule. Those are the obstacles and barriers that you're trying to address when you're trying to entice people to come to a rural practice."

The department reports one doctor-in-training has signed a contract since the change was made.