New president of Doctors Nova Scotia aims to tackle physician shortage

Dr. Tim Holland says he is passionate about reducing the waiting list for Nova Scotians looking for a family doctor and says physician recruitment and retention is vital.

Dr. Tim Holland says reducing wait-list for a doctor is one of his priorities

Dr. Tim Holland is the new president of Doctors Nova Scotia. (Robert Short/CBC)

The new president of Doctors Nova Scotia says tackling the doctor shortage will be a priority under his leadership.

Dr. Tim Holland takes the helm of the physicians group as Nova Scotia deals with a number of health-care issues, from a doctor shortage to low morale among doctors.

"If you don't have a family doctor, you are being left out of health care," said Holland. "I've decided to make that a big initiative for myself and that's lining up with one of Doctors Nova Scotia main goals — addressing this shortage of family physicians."

It's not all about money. If it was, I'm sure all the physicians would have moved to New Brunswick or Alberta.- Dr. Tim Holland

Holland has a family practice in Indian Brook, a refugee practice in Halifax and is an emergency doctor at Colchester Regional Hospital.

He said adding seats for medical residents and increasing the number of collaborative care centres will help make Nova Scotia more attractive for doctors.

"It's not all about money. If it was, I'm sure all the physicians would have moved to New Brunswick or Alberta. They're here because they care about patients.

"If we can make the health-care system work in a way that family doctors feel they can deliver the best care for their patients, they are going to want to come to Nova Scotia, they're going to want to stay in Nova Scotia," said Holland.

Physician morale down

Physician burnout is also on Holland's to-do list for his term as president.

"Physician morale is at an all-time low. Our retention and recruitment is dire. Physicians are feeling burned out, they feel they are not respected by the system, they don't feel empowered to be able to make the difference they need to do to make their patients' lives better," said Holland.

He said he knows he can't fix those issues in a year, but said Doctors Nova Scotia is now working with the Health Department, the Nova Scotia Health Authority and others in the health-care system to focus on the goal of improving things for patients and for doctors.

"Everyone is now recognizing that we all have the same goal. We want what's best for the patient. We might see different ways to get there. But we all recognize that that's what we all want in the end, and now that we all have that common understanding, I'm optimistic we can work together to actually deliver on that promise," said Holland.

With files from Mainstreet Cape Breton