Love, kite boarding and a warm welcome help make P.E.I. home for 13 new physicians

The 2017 physician welcome reception is a way for the City of Charlottetown and surrounding communities to show how grateful they are when professionals choose to move to P.E.I.

Governments say making professionals feel welcome is the key to retaining them

Dr. Ashish Masurekar and his partner Julia Rivers, who is from the Maritimes, moved to P.E.I. in May. (Karen Mair )

Love brought him to P.E.I., and Islanders hope Dr. Ashish Masurekar will love P.E.I. enough to stay.

Tuesday night, Masurekar and 12 other new physicians were celebrated at the 2017 Physician Welcome Reception. The event was organized by the City of Charlottetown, the PEI Association for Newcomers to Canada and several corporate sponsors as a way to show their gratitude.

The doctors and their families were officially welcomed by Lt.-Gov. Antoinette Perry, Charlottetown Mayor Clifford Lee and provincial Health and Wellness Minister Robert Henderson.

"It's important to us that they stay here," Lee said.

Dr. Ash, as he's known on the Island, trained and practised in England, specializing in blood disorders. He now works as a hematologist at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown.

He moved to P.E.I. in May with his partner, Julia Rivers.

"Love brought me here and she's from the Maritimes, so yeah, that was the driver," Masurekar said.

'Quality of life'

Now that he's here, he said he enjoys working in a smaller institution where he knows his team and colleagues.

"I'm impressed with how soon my patients know me before we've even met, that bond means a lot to me." 

A crowd of politicians, business people and health professionals take part in the 2017 Physician Welcome Reception at Charlottetown City Hall on Tuesday night. (Karen Mair )

Over the years the city, province and government agencies have learned it's more than the job or the salary that retains doctors.

"The quality of life to raise a family and even tonight some of the doctors here with little babies, some less than a year old," Lee said. "It's all about safety, quality of life and what a great city Charlottetown is."

I'm impressed with how soon my patients know me before we've even met, that bond means a lot to me.— Dr. Ashish Masurekar

Melanie Bailey of the newcomers association has seen how being embraced by the community has increased the retention rates for doctors.

"There's national and international demand for these physicians, they've chosen P.E.I. and it's on us as a community to really welcome them," she said.

For emergency physician Mathew Twitty, a kite boarding vacation with his wife at Cable Head made it an easier decision to move his young family to the Island from Thunder Bay.

"It was a combination of lifestyle factors, my wife is from Antigonish, wanting to be close to the beach, enjoying the activities that the Island has to offer, also still within Canada and a place where my wife can work," Twitty said.

'The Island way'

Henderson said it's important the province considers the whole family when trying to recruit physicians.

"It's just the Island way," he said. "There can be issues sometimes for physicians' spouses, so we're wanting to make sure they're incorporated and made aware of all the amenities available on the Island."

The Island way has already won over Masurekar. When he arrived on P.E.I., his new landlord spent more than an hour helping him find the right SIM card for his phone.

"He didn't have to do any of that," Masurekar said. "Now he's my best friend."