New signing bonus agreement to help attract doctors to rural areas

Published on June 6, 2014

A new $2.5-million signing bonus agreement has been reached between the provincial government and the Newfoundland and Labrador Medical Association (NLMA).

In a news release, the province said the agreement will help regional health authorities recruit and retain physicians to rural and remote communities throughout the province.

Health Minister Paul Davis said ensuring residents have access to physicians in all regions of the province is a key priority for the provincial government.

The new signing bonus program provides a one-time signing bonus to eligible general practitioners and specialists who establish a full-time practice for three years in specified communities in Newfoundland and Labrador. Signing bonuses will be available to physicians who have met the standard for a full licence and who choose to practise in local communities.

NLMA president-elect Dr. Wendy Graham said medical students and residents from the province are in high demand across North America.

"This means we have to offer better incentives that we know will influence their decision to stay and practice in the province," Graham said. "Both the NLMA and the provincial government want them to stay right here and incentives like the Provincial Physician Signing Bonus Program will make that option more attractive."

Elizabeth Faour, Memorial University Medical Students' Society president, said the program is good for MUN medical students and, more importantly. it's good for the people of Newfoundland and Labrador.

"When medical school graduates enter the workforce, many of us have large debts and, naturally, we are concerned about paying off our student loans. Other jurisdictions have attractive incentives and their recruiters are very good at persuading new graduates to practice in their communities. We’re happy to see that this province is offering recruitment incentives like the new Physician Signing Bonus Program to entice Memorial Medical School graduates to stay here in Newfoundland and Labrador,” Faour said.

Newfoundland and Labrador currently has 1,183 physicians, the highest number ever working in this province.