The government of Saskatchewan is promising newly graduated doctors $120,000 in cash — if they set up in a small town.

The incentive, announced Wednesday, was promoted as a way to encourage new doctors who may want to pay down any student debt they may have.

The $120,000 would be spread out over five years, with small payments at first and gradually growing to larger payments.

The program is also being made retroactive, so any new doctor who qualifies will get the incentive.

The doctor must go to a place with 10,000 residents, or less.

It is open to Canadian doctors and international medical graduates.

An agency called Saskdocs will administer the program.

The head of that group said the cash incentive should help.

"The recruitment of physicians, especially to rural or remote communities, is a real challenge," Ed Mantler, the CEO of Saskdocs said Wednesday as the program was announced.

Mantler added that work must also be done to find ways to retain physicians in rural settings.