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Physicians - Physician Recruitment and Retention

Physician recruitment and retention is a high priority in the Five Hills Health Region.  Across Canada, physician recruitment and retention has become increasingly difficult and very costly. 

On average, the cost to recruit a physician to Five Hills Health Region can be anywhere from $10,000 to $40,000, depending on specialty and location.   The world of physician recruitment is a competitive one, and as the competition goes, there is heavier reliance upon cities, communities and private practices to attract and retain physicians.

The majority of physicians in Five Hills Health Region are “independent practitioners” which means they are private business people who have agreed to provide service to certain communities and surrounding areas.  Most physicians are not employees of the Health Region.

Recruitment and retention of physicians requires a joint effort amongst the health region, its communities, its current physicians and other stakeholders in the province.  Saskdocs was established by the provincial government to partner with the health regions.

The Recruitment Process

No easy way about it, the recruitment process can be a lengthy one.

Physician candidates must contact the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Saskatchewan (CPSS) in order to determine their eligibility to practice medicine in Saskatchewan.  There are strict requirements to be met in order that a physician’s credentials be accepted in Saskatchewan, especially in the case of internationally-trained medical graduates (IMGs). 

Once it has been determined by the CPSS that a physician is eligible for licensure in Saskatchewan, Five Hills will assist with the next steps.  In the case of an IMG, it may be necessary to apply for a work permit, which can take anywhere from three to eight months to receive.

The physician’s credentials and experience need to be verified and this takes place through several interviews, application forms and reference checks.

Once these steps have been taken and everything is in order, an arrival date will be set for the physician to arrive and start setting up their practice.

Each physician’s experience is different.  Specialists will need to go through different steps than family physicians.  Canadian-trained physicians will have a different process than IMGs.  There are many factors in the length of time that it takes to have a physician physically start up their practice in Saskatchewan. 


It is one thing to “bring” a physician to Five Hills Health Region but it is entirely another to “keep” him or her here.  Many aspects determine whether a physician will stay where they are recruited to. 

Family satisfaction (spouses and children) are often a determining factor when a physician is making a career choice.  It is imperative that the children are happy in their schools and extra-curricular activities and that the spouses are satisfied with employment opportunities.  Other factors that a physician may base their decision on are workload, services within the community, religious affiliations, proximity to universities and airports, etc. 

An important role is played by all within the Region to ensure physician satisfaction.  Communities can offer hospitality and if they so choose, financial incentives.  Fellow physicians and spouses can offer peer support.  When it comes to keeping physicians within the Region and letting them know how happy we are to have them, everyone has a job to do!