The city is looking globally for answers to the region's recruitment and retention of health professionals.
The Northern Ontario School of Medicine hosted the Canadian Recruit and Retain Conference at the Nor'wester Hotel Thursday; the conference brought together policy makers, educators and health professionals from across Canada and seven northern European nations: Sweden, Iceland, Greenland, Scotland and Northern Ireland, the Republic of Ireland and Norway.
NOSM dean Roger Strasser said there's a shortage of all public sector workers in northern rural or remote communities and the conference is about hearing what's worked for other countries to gain a fresh approach.
He also said that students who have grown up and been educated in large cities often have a false idea of rural communities being second class.
They're often put off by the idea of a small community before testing it out for themselves.
When recruiting health professionals, there are three main factors that encourage student to work in a small community.
The first is whether the student grew up in a rural or remote community, said Strasser.
"If the student has grown up in this community or a similar kind of community, they feel comfortable there and they're much more likely to decide that's the place they want to have their careers," he said.
The second factor is giving students positive clinical and education experience in small communities and the third is to provide targeted training after graduation to prepare them to work in that environment.
But there are several other components to the decision, including the person's family life, said Strasser.
"It's also about the personal and social dimensions of living in that community," he said.
NOSM is the only non-European partner in the Recruit and Retain project, which is funded by the European Union.
Project manager Andrew Sim works for the NHS Western Isles health board in Scotland and said they face issues recruiting specialists and other health professionals willing to work for a prolonged period of time in remote areas.
"Our problem is much more the senior staff and trying to keep them in place," Sim said, adding they often don't have the right expectations when first arriving to work.
"Once they have come, sometimes the allure of going back to the big cities is the problem," he said.
For Sim, he hopes to gain feedback on their practices at the conference to hear what other countries think is of interest or could be of value to them.
He also wants to showcase what his organization has accomplished.
"We want to be able to show people it's working," he said of the transnational project.
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