Clinic actively seeking to recruit two new physicians

Derek Kilbourn

Sounder News

Wednesday, November 13 2019

The Gabriola Medical Clinic is actively working with the Gabriola Health Care Foundation to recruit new family physicians to Gabriola, but the reality is that there are a lot of communities in BC and the rest of Canada also seeking physicians.  

Dr. Maciej Mierzewski, speaking on behalf of the clinic, said they are hoping to recruit two new doctors to Gabriola to replace both Dr. Jim Mackenzie and Dr. Francois Bosman.

Dr. Mackenzie’s office recently notified patients that he would be retiring, and that they should be actively looking for a new family physician.

And while Dr. Bosman does not have a retirement date set, the Gabriola Medical Clinic staff want to have someone in place for when that does happen.

Both Dr. Mackenzie’s clinic and the Gabriola Medical Clinic have been actively trying to recruit doctors to Gabriola, but are competing with almost 300 other potential job opportunities for family physicians in BC alone.

In addition to this, there is competition with hospitals and specialized services looking for physicians. 

Doctors working in the government or corporate-owned services are employees, and typically make a higher wage with less overhead. Family physicians are essentially small-business owners, responsible for all the same financial costs that any other professional would have and, in BC, are typically earning a lower income than the hospital physicians and specialists.

What this adds up to is that new doctors, typically carrying hundreds of thousands of dollars in student debt, are reluctant to sign on to more financial responsibility when they are trying to get started with their work.

Dr. Mierzewski said in anticipation of Dr. Mackenzie retiring, the three doctors at the Gabriola Medical Clinic are working on absorbing patients from Dr. Mackenzie, but are having to keep it to about 100 people at this point, prioritizing the very sick, and families with children.

Currently, between the three doctors at the clinic, there are 3,500 patients.

The official “norm” for BC is around 1,300 patients per doctor, according to Dr. Mierzewski, but he added that the number is for family physicians who are not also working an emergency on-call rotation (which all three of the clinic doctors are doing).

He added that the number is also based on a normal population curve, where children typically need less/not as much medical care compared to those over age 50.

“Our average age is higher, and patients in their sixties often have complex care needs.”

Dr. Mierzewski said if the clinic is successful in recruiting two more doctors, they will absorb all the patients who would want to move to the clinic.

But even if they do recruit doctors this spring, the process of bringing them on board could take till spring of 2021.

Asked if people can help, Dr. Mierzewski said, “People can just talk about it with their friends. 

“Spread the news to family and friends, as there are doctors somewhere who do want to move and work in a place like Gabriola. 

“We are hoping that somebody will appreciate the place for what it is, fall in love with our community and settle in.”

He added that the Gabriola Health Care Foundation Board will continue to actively help the doctors with recruitment.