In early 2022 data revealed that nearly 40% of Lethbridge residents did not have a family doctor, and in a city of 100,000 people that meant a lot of people not having access to quality medical service or experiencing long wait times at the emergency room of the Chinook Regional Hospital. After consultation with the Economic Development Lethbridge (EDL) Board of Directors, they directed EDL to offer their support to address this critical health care issue.
In spring of 2022 the development of a Physician Recruitment Publication would be the kick-starter to an overall doctor recruitment strategy for the City of Lethbridge. EDL used their experience in developing investment brochures as the model for building this publication to create interest and awareness for those in other provinces about the benefits of practicing medicine in our community or opening a medical clinic in Lethbridge and southern Alberta. The publication focused on two things; quality of life including education options, housing affordability and recreational options in our region and medical supports through Alberta Health Services and the Chinook Primary Care Network available to medical professionals who call Lethbridge home.
The publication was used as a recruitment piece to attract physicians to our region, and it worked. The publication was highlighted on a Doctor Recruitment page on the EDL website alongside testimonials from those working in the field, a QR code highlighting job opportunities, and a links and contact section for those with questions. The City of Lethbridge also used the brochure in their digital marketing campaign and sent it to candidates who made inquiries about Lethbridge. Through analytics it was found that the biggest interest came from Ontario and Quebec. Dissecting the numbers further it was found that most interested candidates were more concerned about practicing medicine rather than opening and running a medical clinic.
The success of the publication, coupled with other efforts has seen an increase of 17 doctors being added locally and as of March 2023, 10 have begun their work, with a full panel of patients. (source Global News Lethbridge, March 27) The remaining physicians are working through their Practice Readiness Assessments (PRA’s). The publication remains downloadable as a PDF on the EDL website and the Doctor Recruitment page is still one of the highest viewed pages with over 500 views from 387 users in July 2023.
In the spring of 2023 Alberta Health Services (AHS) reached out to EDL to request an update on the publication to focus on needs in the Cardiac Services department of the Chinook Regional Hospital. EDL took on the task of creating a version of the publication more dedicated to cardiac services, and this version is now being used to recruit professionals to this stream of service within AHS.