N.S. adds 15 new specialist residency seats to Dalhousie medical school

Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey said the new spaces would be in place next July. He also said research shows people who train in Nova Scotia are more likely to stay.

Province will spend $1.5 million a year on new seats

Dr. David Anderson, dean of Dalhousie's medical school, speaks at a news conference Wednesday as Health Minister Randy Delorey and Dr. Christine Short, chief of medicine for the Nova Scotia Health Authority, look on. (Michael Gorman/CBC)

The province is adding 15 new specialist residency seats to the Dalhousie University medical school, bringing the total number at the university to 65.

"This helps manage workload for specialists within each of the disciplines," Nova Scotia Health Minister Randy Delorey said Wednesday at a news conference.

The added benefit of the move, said the minister, is that the majority of doctors who do their residency training in Nova Scotia — about 75 per cent — stay in the province to continue working.

"That helps to deliver the services and reduce those wait-lists," Delorey said.

The new spaces include:

  • emergency medicine (two spaces)
  • core internal medicine (two spaces)
  • general internal medicine (two spaces)
  • child and adolescent psychiatry (two spaces)
  • neurology
  • obstetrics and gynecology
  • critical care
  • geriatric psychiatry
  • palliative medicine
  • ear, nose and throat
  • dermatology

The new spaces will be in place next July. The province is willing spend $1.5 million a year on the new seats.

A unique feature of these spots is they will not be Halifax-centric. Dr. David Anderson, dean of Dalhousie's medical school, said residents will routinely be sent to communities outside the Halifax area to work, in many cases living for extended periods in parts of the province that have been identified as needing more specialist services.

"The strategic goal is to increase our capacity around recruitment and retention in the community setting," he said. "And as we grow a program like this and grow our specialist training capacity in these various communities, as these residents bubble up through the system, it will just snowball that we'll have greater and greater training capacity over time."

Because most of residencies range from three to five years and the seats will be filled each year, Anderson said there would be a "positive and sustained impact" for the system.

Dr. Tim Holland, president of Doctors Nova Scotia, says physicians in the province are among the lowest paid in the country, but improved working conditions are just as important. (Craig Paisley/CBC)

Dr. Tim Holland, president of Doctors Nova Scotia, said the announcement "is a big benefit to the patients of Nova Scotia."

"Residents bring a lot of fresh views to the community, it's a great way for physicians to keep up to date on the latest developments in medicine, plus it does offload some of the work for those physicians," he said.