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Letter: My thoughts on why physicians leave Carbonear

Letter to the editor
"It is with a heavy heart that I leave this community that I have grown to love," writes Dr. Ash Jarbo.

There is an ongoing problem of retention of physicians in the Carbonear area. I’ve been asked many times about my reason for leaving the province, especially when I had intended to stay in this area for good.

My family and I have grown to love this quaint place. People in the community are so welcoming and friendly, the place is quiet and far from the hustle and bustle of city life. Carbonear is a great place to raise a family.

Physicians undeniably will earn more in an urban area, but it’s not just about the financial aspect. Physicians who choose to serve in rural area like Carbonear have the expectations of a balanced life and workload, giving them enough time to be with their families and serve the community by providing health care effectively.

But with the shortage of physicians in this area, burnout is a common problem. A lot of physicians experience dissatisfaction with longer working hours and a lack of time off because there is a shortage of physicians who can relieve them.

Why is it difficult to retain physicians in Carbonear? Is it because of the system? Is it because of poor management practices? Is it because of poor working conditions? There are many factors.

I feel I owe it to the community to be honest and let the residents know why I am leaving my practice. I was a full-time physician at Carbonear Hospital for almost three years and opted to just work as a locum thereafter. I decided to start a private practice in Carbonear because it enabled me to create an atmosphere that is more relaxed and family-oriented. And I believe this made me more effective and efficient in dealing with clients because it gave me enough time to be more thorough with them. It is one of the reasons why I left the hospital, so that I could improve the quality of service that I was providing.

It’s normal for physicians to get into conflict with management at times as to how they run the hospital. Good management should be able to handle these conflicts and be willing to consider suggestions that will improve health care for clients.

Nowadays, clients have to wait longer until they get to see the next available physician, particularly specialists, and to eventually receive the needed treatment. I desire to continuously improve to give people the highest possible level of care they deserve.

But there are times physicians get frustrated and lose motivation because of how they are handled by management. A poor relationship between physicians and hospital management can negatively affect the delivery of care. The misuse of power can contribute to conflict. Management should look for collaborative approaches to resolve conflicts.

I feel the management of Carbonear Hospital is not supportive enough to physicians, and there is a lack of empathy.

Access to health care in Carbonear needs improvement, and hospital management should make timely care a priority.

I am speaking on my behalf, but I am certain other physicians have also experienced dissatisfaction with how the hospital is being run. It should be noted that the hospital management is appointed. It is only reasonable to suggest that the hospital management should be elected. It would show fairness and equality when health-care providers get to vote for who they think deserve the positions. This is a vital point that should be given careful consideration.

It is essential to support physicians, too, because if they leave, it is the community that will suffer in the end; a lot of residents will be left without care.

My only hope is that management will see this as an eye-opener and try to make the physicians feel valued. I did not write this letter to point fingers and throw accusations, I wrote this simply because I am concerned about how the hospital needs to improve for the good of the community. It may help in retaining physicians and have them stay for good in Carbonear.
It is with a heavy heart that I leave this community that I have grown to love. I wish Carbonear and surrounding areas the best.

Dr. Ash Jarbo, internal medicine specialist
Carbonear

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