A new doctor will be setting up shop in the next few months here in Stettler, with two more on the way in the new year.
Doctor Marvin Bailey is in the process of completing his placement with the university, the final stage of a long process for out-of-country doctors who wish to move to Canada.
Bailey and his fiancee moved to Canada from South Africa, where the doctor received his medical training. After completing several examinations to prove his knowledge, as well as going through the lengthy visa process, Bailey arrived in Canada. After his three-month practical placement with the university, he’ll be ready to start taking patients at the Stettler Medical Centre on Main Street.
The town regularly works at recruiting new doctors to handle Stettler’s growing population. The town also offers incentives to make the move easier.
“People don’t understand how difficult it can be,” councillor Karen Sernecky, a member of the town’s “Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee” said of the move in an earlier interview. For new immigrants, who have no credit history and limited identification, it becomes difficult to do the most basic things, like purchase a vehicle, set up utilities for a rental or even get a cell phone.
With so many communities competing for new doctors, each community offers a compensation package, but these packages often are simply full of necessities for the new doctor.
“How can he be on call without a cell phone? How will he get to work without a vehicle?” Sernecky asked, rhetorically. “He can’t, so we help out there.”
Though Sernecky wouldn’t disclose the specific details of the agreement reached between Dr. Bailey and the committee, she did note that part of the package included finding a rental with utilities so the doctor would be able to move in and not have to worry about the basics.
The doctor arrived earlier this year, right after warm temperatures had melted away the snow.
“He was very disappointed,” Sernecky said at the time. As if understanding the doctor’s sadness, Stettler was a few days later blanketed in white snow.
Two more doctors have also accepted positions in town, and will arrive in Canada in January 2016 if all goes as expected. Before being able to move to the country, the doctors must take exams to prove their skills and handle the visa situation.
Like with Bailey, once here the doctors will need to prove their written abilities through a three-month practical with a doctor here in Canada before being licensed.