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Lawn med student hopes to attract physicians to region

Lawn native Dr. Paula Slaney, a student with the school of medicine at Memorial University, was one of the guest speakers at the Burin Peninsula Joint Council AGM on Nov. 29. Colin Farrell/ The Southern Gazette
Lawn native Dr. Paula Slaney, a student with the school of medicine at Memorial University, was one of the guest speakers at the Burin Peninsula Joint Council AGM on Nov. 29. Colin Farrell/ The Southern Gazette

Slaney hopes to highlight Burin Peninsula at residents’ retreat

MARYSTOWN, NL – Dr. Paula Slaney, a native of the Town of Lawn currently completing her second-year residency in family medicine, is hoping to encourage more physicians to consider setting up practice on the Burin Peninsula.

Slaney, who is working in partnership with Jackie Fewer, Academic Program Administrator/Coordinator-Eastern Stream, Discipline of Family Medicine, Faculty of Medicine with Memorial University in an effort to host a recruitment event on the peninsula, spoke with members the Burin Peninsula Joint Council during their annual general meeting held at the Marystown Hotel and Convention Centre on Nov. 29.

“I have always been an advocate for the Burin Peninsula,” she said during her presentation. “I’ve been on a countdown to come back here since the day I went to St. John’s, and luckily I did have the opportunity to do my full-year training here, with plans to set up my own practice in July.”

Slaney said she is trying to convince others currently completing their training, as well as some still working towards their degrees, to join her.
“It’s very difficult to start as a young physician without having some support and ideally, it’s been noted in research that physicians tend to want to work in groups now – the solo practice is very much gone out of style.
“We do like to work together, share patients, have support.”

She added the best way to encourage that model it to attract groups of physicians to the area.
“This is what we need for the whole peninsula, to have more young physicians who are trained here, who are from rural communities who want to support rural Newfoundland,” said Slaney.

Regional streams

Memorial’s faculty of family medicine is divided into streams based on regional health authorities in the province – eastern, central, western and northern, said Slaney.
According to Memorial’s website, “EastFam” is a stream of the family medicine residency program that offers residents a chance to complete most of their residency program in the eastern region of the province.

Slaney said while the other regional streams have successfully encouraged communities within their stream to help fund and support resident retreats, that hasn’t been the case for the eastern stream.

“Our retreat was in St. John’s last year, which I think is an unfortunate and missed opportunity, (because) for people who want to work in St. John’s, a retreat is not going to attract them to stay in St. John’s,” said Slaney. “They already want to stay there. It’s a wasted opportunity.”

This year, the pair advocating to have a retreat held on the Burin Peninsula to showcase the region and all that it offers to new physicians.
“What we are looking at is bringing in a group of eastern stream residents, first-year and second-year family medicine residents at Memorial University who are training within Eastern Health from Bonavista to St. John’s, down to the Burin Peninsula.”       

Slaney said 15 people are interested in attending a weekend retreat on the Burin Peninsula to get to know the area.

“Residents would travel to the Burin Peninsula on Friday afternoon. We would have a social event on Friday evening, and councils would be invited to come and mingle with the residents and speak to these future physicians to try and attract more people to our area.” 

Slaney said unless residents are scheduled for a rotation on the peninsula, “which are few and far between, these trainees just drive right past the turn-off and never ever come down here, so they don’t know what they’re missing.”

She said during the event a representative from each council around the peninsula would be given an opportunity to present to the group to promote their towns and the benefits they offer.

Slaney said that as of right now they are hoping to offer the event May 2018.

“Right no it is still tentative based on making sure we have enough funding to put it off,” she explained. “But things are looking good.”

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