Military begs docs to enlist
Date: Tuesday, November 19 2002
Topic: International News
By STEPHANIE RUBEC, Ottawa Bureau -- Sun Media
OTTAWA -- The Canadian Forces are so desperate for doctors they're promising not to deploy new recruits abroad and they're paying medical schools to reserve spots at $40,000 apiece.
The military loses seven of every 10 doctors once their four-year contract is up, said Lt.-Col. Randy Russell, who's in charge of the military's medical training plan.
Russell said he wants to bring that down to at least 30%.
"We're critically short of doctors in uniform," Russell said. "Our shortfall is quite critical and it gets worse from year to year."
As a short-term solution, the military has hired upwards of 100 civilian doctors to treat Canadian Forces members. Canadian soldiers can only use the medical services provided by the Forces.
Russell said the military is hoping to entice licensed physicians to join the Forces with a $225,000 signing bonus and a promise that they won't be deployed from their home during their four-year contract.
Russell said statistics show licensed physicians are usually married to professionals and don't want to leave their families for long periods of time, so the Forces are promising not to deploy them.
The physicians are also encouraged to pick which base they want to live near and are guaranteed one day of work a week in local hospitals to keep their skills sharp.
Russell said their $90,000 to $126,000 salary doesn't compare to salaries outside the military, but pointed out that the Forces offer a good working environment and an opportunity to make a difference.
Those doctors who joined the military before heading to medical school are required to deploy like regular soldiers.
The Canadian Forces have about 215 of those physicians.
To ensure that new recruits who meet the requirements for medical school get a spot, the military is paying the University of Ottawa, Queens University and the University of Manitoba $40,000 per seat filled annually.
A university still accepts its usual number of students, but uses the money to create extra spots for soldiers who meets entry requirements.