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SARM chimes in on Saskatchewan rural doctor shortage

The Saskatchewan Association of Rural Municipalities or SARM is adding its voice to the concerns being expressed over the rural doctor shortage in the province.

In a statement, SARM notes the decline in nurses and doctors and calls for “immediate action.” It wants a return to the Grow Your Own Nurse Practitioner program saying that 10 per cent of nurse practitioners in Saskatchewan are unemployed and continue to work as registered nurses.

“It is crucial that we employ or fully utilize all NPs or we will lose this valuable group of professionals to other provinces like Alberta where the job opportunities and wages for NPs are much more attractive,” says Johanne Rust, nurse practitioner and president of the Saskatchewan Association of Nurse Practitioners.

Rust surmised there are 30 underutilized or unemployed NPs in Saskatchewan who could care for about 36,000 patients right away. She added that’s about the population of Lloydminster or Moose Jaw and if these talents are not utilized, they will be lost to other provinces like Alberta which have better wages.

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SARM called on the government to offer incentives for nurse practitioners. The government is currently offering rural physicians a $200,000 incentive over a five-year term.

Data from the Canadian Institute of Health Information (CIHI) show that from 2018 to 2022, Saskatchewan saw a 22 per cent drop in registered nurses and an exit of 35 doctors.

The Saskatchewan government contends however that, from 2007-2023 the province has increased the number of doctors by 62 per cent. That’s about 1,000 doctors, states the health ministry.

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