Lifestyle attracts physicians to Barrie


For Matyas Hervieux, the world is his oyster. And he has found a pearl in Royal Victoria Hospital.

Hervieux, a senior medical student from McMaster University, is currently at the Barrie hospital for a pediatric rotation. While he is at RVH for educational purposes, his thoughts are of the future. As one of the very few medical graduates in the province he will have many hospital recruiters grabbing at his coat tail.

Pamela Colquhoun is one recruiter who doesn’t have to grab. Her philosophy is to open wide the doors to RVH – a state of the art medical facility – and then to a community which has nothing but the best to offer, and the physicians will come.

“From a recruitment perspective, we have successfully branded our area as a very active, recreational community where professional goals can be met,” said Colquhoun, RVH’s Physician Recruitment and Retention Coordinator. “In one word we offer – lifestyle. We understand the needs of young physicians and their families and we will try to accommodate those needs from a personal and professional standpoint. Our philosophy is family first.”

That is good news for Hervieux, because besides RVH being a modern medical facility, he has sensed a strong feeling of camaraderie – of family – among hospital employees. And this is important to him.

“In a hospital like this you can get to know everyone from the cleaners to the kitchen staff to the support staff – that makes a nice atmosphere to work in,” said Hervieux. “That would be an incentive for me to come back here and work. Work environment is important. It just doesn’t make sense to choose to work in a place where you are not content and happy. In large hospitals people don’t seem to value lifestyle. ”

What field of medicine Hervieux will go into remains to be seen, but he does know for sure that he wants a relationship-based practice.

“I like being able to walk through the community and meet my patients at the grocery store or while I’m running,” he said.

Lifestyle is precisely the recruitment tool that Colquhoun has been using and it is working. In the past year RVH has attracted 18 new physicians in a wide range of specialties, from family medicine to pediatrics and plastics to oncology and nephrology.

“But it is not only the young physicians who are coming on board – many senior physicians love the community and the state-of-the-art facility that is Royal Victoria Hospital,” said Colquhoun. “Barrie is a rapidly growing community and there are exciting opportunities and support for physicians in all specialties, at every stage of their career.”

As with most communities the battle is always to attract family physicians and Barrie is no different.

“Our biggest concern still continues to be the lack of primary care services in the area. We have been successful in bringing new family physicians to our community, but we’re finding that very few are starting comprehensive full-time family practices,” said Colquhoun. “With that in mind we are looking at alternative methods, including a Family Health Team and developing specialty clinics.”

RVH has already been successful in establishing an orphan patient discharge clinic with a nurse practitioner for hospitalist patients who have no family doctor to go to for follow-up once discharged. As well, RVH established a prenatal and well baby clinic, geriatric clinic, men’s health clinic, urgent care clinic and five walk-in clinics.

“We understand that the trends in family medicine are changing and as a community we need to respond to that,” she said.

Hervieux likes that kind of forward thinking. He also likes RVH’s no pressure ‘sales tactic’ and is impressed with the time and attention that has been paid to him.’

“I have been to four rural hospitals and found that Barrie has an excellent way of recruiting. They are not pushy. They are not evasive. The people here really believe they have an excellent facility and a community to match – they are not trying to sell me anything, just showing me what they have,” he said.

“I think after this experience I would have a really hard time trying to think of a reason not to come back and practice in Barrie,” he said.

Pamela Colquhoun is not only charged with recruiting new doctors to Barrie’s Royal Victoria Hospital, but she also has the task of keeping the doctors, currently on staff, happy.

“Although we have been concentrating for a long time on the development and implementation of a solid physician recruitment program, I can’t underestimate the value of a physician retention program,” said Colquhoun, RVH’s Physician Recruitment and Retention Coordinator. “We are continuously developing our program at the RVH and in the community. We believe retention is key.”

With that in mind, RVH has developed a strong physician retention program which includes:

Board of Directors awards of excellences for physicians by nomination, implemented three years ago. The award winners have their names placed on a plaque in the main lobby of the hospital.

Awards received for service – starting at five years. Annual appreciation week for physicians and their families.

Preceptor recognition for physicians who train medical students and residents in the past year. A small gift over the holiday season recognizes these physicians.

Physician retention survey- distributed to newcomers in the first year of arrival.

Medical staff social committee comprised of physicians spouse. They have monthly events including a newcomer party, golf days, skit days, and wine tasting, Halloween party, fall barbecue, holiday parties. This group is an integral part of the physician retention program.

“To show how well physician retention is going, just this past year, 28 of our physicians were honoured for having more than 25 years of services each to our community.”