Nova Scotia

New medical residents get 'amazing welcome' in northern Nova Scotia

While medical residents started work across the country on Tuesday, people in the Truro, N.S., area celebrated the arrival of a new cohort. They're the first to be hired in Nova Scotia's expanded residency program.

10 new placements created in Nova Scotia with hopes the doctors will stay

Health Minister Randy Delorey greets six new family medicine residents in Truro, N.S. (Carolyn Ray/CBC)

One of six new family practice medical residents placed in northern Nova Scotia says the cohort has been blown away by the welcome they've received.

The group includes the first residents to be placed in the region, and make up the bulk of 10 additional Nova Scotia placements that started on Tuesday.

"It's just been an amazing welcome for us," said Dr. Jamie Grandy, who explained that his peers thought they were just attending a small lunch, but instead were greeted by officials including the health minister.

"We can't really believe what's happening."

While the new doctors are excited about their careers, the communities are hoping that the residents will be a solution for the area's doctor shortage.

Truro, Amherst and New Glasgow will all benefit from two residents apiece. Two positions also opened in Inverness, while another residency was created with a focus on women's health and one for the hospitalist program.

Health Minister Randy Delorey was quick to point out that statistically, the majority of residents stay in communities after their placements.

"These are the next generation of physicians," he said.

Pilot project

Delorey has worked with a team on the project behind the scenes for more than a year. The province is spending $3.3 million a year to pay for these new positions.

Grandy is originally from Grand Bank, N.L., and studied at Memorial University. However, his girlfriend is from the Truro area, so he was thrilled when a family medicine placement opened up there because it was his top pick.

"Having a residency site in a community where you want to practise after is very beneficial in transitioning from residency to your own practice as a family physician," he said.

Dr. Jamie Grandy says the creation of the new family medicine placements was perfect timing as he was looking to move to the Truro, N.S., area. (Mélanie Léger/CBC)

As of May 31, the Northern Zone, which includes Truro, had vacancies for 25 family physicians. Grandy said he's well-informed about the shortage.

"When we go through interviews, we ask these questions about what are going to be the issues in these communities or what challenges do you think we'll face?" he said.

"I was comfortable with the answers that I got to that that this would be an excellent learning site."

Of the five other physicians who are starting their residences in northern Nova Scotia, two studied at Dalhousie University, two studies at universities in Ontario and one attended Trinity College in Dublin.

Dr. Aruba Nurullah joked she hasn't received this much attention since her wedding. She fell in love with the Maritimes while studying in Halifax and hopes to stay after she finishes her residency. (Mélanie Léger/CBC)

Dr. Aruba Nurullah is originally from Victoria and has been placed in Amherst for her residency.

"The community has been super amazing and super welcoming," she said.

The biggest help was that they found her a furnished apartment.

"I drove over this weekend, my husband and I, and we were just shocked," said Nurullah. "It's a beautiful place. I'm very happy."

The new residents know they'll face daily questions about whether they'll stay in their communities long-term. They'll have two years to make their decision, but some are already committing to Nova Scotia.

"If they have a job for me, yes," Nurullah said confidently. "That was the goal to finish my medical training here and to be able to work here. If they're hiring, I'll stay."

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