Anyone who has ever lived in a rural Alberta knows the challenges associated with recruiting doctors to their small communities. This February, we got the opportunity to see first-hand what these communities are doing to make this process easier for everyone.
Community representatives of attraction and retention committees, from across the province, gathered at the annual Rural Alberta Community Physician Attraction and Retention Conference. Co-hosted by the Alberta Rural Physician Action Plan and the Northern Alberta Development Council, the groups gathered to share experiences and learn about new initiatives related to the task of attracting, retaining and recruiting new physicians to our rural communities.
The conference gave us the chance to hear the amazing story of a young doctor who recently immigrated to Canada from South Africa. Dr. Wilhene Zwanepoel shared her compelling story of her and her husband’s journey in getting to Canada (and the challenges she faced once arriving to our country). “We started with this process in 2008.” Says Dr. Zwanepoel, “It was close to five years we were busy with this process. Some people have a five-year plan to buy a building or build a business; our five year plan was to get to Canada.”