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Barrie hospital offers training program for future doctors

Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre (RVH) is welcoming a group of nine new residents starting their final two years of medical training as the push for new doctors continues.

"We're coming to training almost 100 family practice residents since we started, and we are keeping about 60 in our area," said Stu Murdoch, chief academic at RVH.

It's a program seeing success since 2009, with a goal of recruiting and keeping doctors local.

According to physician recruitment offices in Simcoe County, there is a shortage of 79 family physicians and 41 specialists.

In Barrie, there are more than 37,000 people without a doctor, a need amplified by the pandemic.

"One of the problems with COVID is that many people are retiring, so we are not being able to replace those retirements as well as the growth in Barrie," said Murdoch.

Karyssa Hamann is one of the first-year residents and says becoming a doctor is her calling.

"I kind of always knew it would be my path one way or another," said Hamann.

The residents learn alongside RVH staff, practicing medicine with a full caseload of patients.

"We have different rotations that we go through, and at the same time, we have three half days where we return to our own clinics and see our own patients and follow up on their chronic or acute issues," said Hamann.

Imelda Suen, another first-year resident, made the decision to come to Barrie from Vancouver.

"I really wanted to work in a community hospital and get exposed to the wide range in family medicine, including continuative care, being able to see our patients in hospital," said Suen.

At the end of the two years, the residents have the option of choosing emergency or family medicine.

"Ideally, we like them to become a comprehensive family physician because of such a need, but at the same time, there is a real crisis for emergency physicians as well," said Murdoch.

Suen says she isn't sure if she will stay in the area, while Hamann says that's the plan for now.

Other hospitals are also seeing success, with a 70 to 85 per cent retention rate across the county. Top Stories

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