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Saskatchewan residency training program will introduce young physicians to Estevan

"It's something that we wanted to be part of for some time and it's exciting that the southeast group will be finally able to host residents," said St. Joseph’s Hospital CEO Greg Hoffort on the announcement of the expansion of the residency training program into the southeast
St. Joseph's Hospital
St. Joseph's Hospital is excited to welcome residents in training next year.

ESTEVAN - Saskatchewan's residency training program is being expanded in the southeastern and east-central part of the province, and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Estevan will be part of that expansion.

The Department of Academic Family Medicine (DAFM) within the University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine, along with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, made the announcement last week.

"This expansion will provide valuable experience to our medical graduates and help improve access to care for residents in smaller, rural communities," said Everett Hindley, the minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors and Rural and Remote Health. "It will also contribute to physician retention outside of major centres. We are pleased to support the new site with $1.2 million in funding this fiscal year."

The expansion will provide training opportunities in 12 rural Saskatchewan communities, including Estevan. A significant amount of training will be in Estevan, Humboldt, Moosomin, Weyburn and Yorkton. Other communities would include Redvers, Esterhazy, Indian Head, Melville, Strasbourg, Watrous and Wynyard.

"It's something that we wanted to be part of for some time and it's exciting that the southeast group will be finally able to host residents," said St. Joseph’s Hospital CEO Greg Hoffort. "It's going to be shared between a number of facilities as we understand, and these resident physicians, as part of their residency, will spend a lot of time in Estevan with our physicians, under their mentorship, with our staff.

"And it's always exciting to have medical students and nursing students and all the other students in the hospital for the energy they bring to the facility.

"It also exposes them to St. Joseph's Hospital, helps them understand what kind of a career they might have here when they're done their residency. And so we're happy that they have made this decision to bring resident training to southeast Saskatchewan."

Similar to the northwestern Saskatchewan site approach, many communities will operate as training sites to create a fuller learning experience and enhance patient care throughout the region. The residency will be two years, which residents will split between different communities.

"This is a great step for our program and for family medicine in Saskatchewan," said Dr. Kathy Lawrence, DAFM provincial head. "Expanding our program means that we can provide additional training opportunities for USask medical graduates, while increasing medical supports to rural communities in southeast Saskatchewan."

There are currently 48 family medicine residency spots available in Saskatchewan. This expansion will allow four more family medicine residents to pursue training in the province, bringing the provincial family medicine residency allocation to 52.

The program will welcome residents to the new training site in July 2022. Hoffort said it's a bit too early for further details, but the opportunities this announcement brings to both Saskatchewan medical students and the hospitals are great.

"The young learners, they are a residency away from being a physician. So their two-year residency is one of the final steps before they write their final exams and become an independent practising physician. They bring energy to the facility. That helps as a whole, and it also exposes them to Estevan," Hoffort said. "So when they do become a licensed physician, they will be well aware of what the opportunities are in Estevan ... and why they might want to choose Estevan as their practice."

The potential for future family physicians coming to Estevan was one of the reasons St. Joseph's Hospital has long wanted to be a part of a residency program.

"We're excited that Estevan was named as one of the communities that will be participating in this," Hoffort said.

Medical students that will partake in the residency program will have completed their four years of medical school, and after two years in the program will be able to apply for a licence in family medicine.

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