Recruiting Indigenous Physicians in the Northwest Territories – Alternatives Journal

What will it take to get more Indigenous doctors practicing medicine in the North? Thomsen D’Hont, a Metis medical student from Yellowknife, has a few ideas.

In 2017, there was a 35 percent shortage of general practitioner physicians in the Northwest Territories (NWT), a shortage that’s led to nearly half of the territory’s population lacking regular access to a medical doctor. Remote Indigenous communities are disproportionately impacted.

Unlike other small Canadian jurisdictions – such as the Yukon or Prince Edward Island – the NWT does not have programs encouraging students to study medicine elsewhere before returning home to practice. Instead, remote communities in the Northwest Territories are forced to hire locum physicians (temporary, travelling doctors) or rely on telephone-medicine.

A policy paper from Thomsen D’Hont, an alumni of the Jane Glassco Fellowship Program, explores what programming options could exist in the NWT to facilitate the training and recruitment of Indigenous doctors. The paper, published in May 2017, challenges the Territorial government to take bold steps to address the current crisis.

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