USask College of Medicine Building. (Photo: University of Saskatchewan)
USask College of Medicine Building. (Photo: University of Saskatchewan)

USask mentorship program supports professional development for new physicians in Saskatchewan

A new multi-year provincial mentorship program will support the professional development needs of all new physicians in Saskatchewan who are in their first five years of practice.

The five-year, $1.4 million program is developed and co-ordinated by the College of Medicine’s Division of Continuing Medical Education (CME), and jointly funded by the Ministry of Health and the Saskatchewan Medical Association with key partners across the province.

“CME is pleased to lead this initiative which aspires to create a supportive, professional network for new physicians in Saskatchewan, regardless of practice location or type,” said Dr. James Barton (MD), associate dean, USask continuing medical education. “Physician burnout and premature departure from practice are real threats to patients and communities in Saskatchewan. It is our hope this program creates a sense of belonging and connectedness for physicians that promotes better mental health and encourages them to stay.”

“Our government has made significant investments in this year’s budget to attract and retain physicians, especially in rural and remote areas of the province,” Mental Health and Addictions, Seniors and Rural and Remote Health Minister Everett Hindley said. “Along with other resources, this mentorship program will have a meaningful impact in supporting physicians as they establish practice in Saskatchewan communities.”

The program will match new physicians with trained coaches and mentors to identify professional development goals and learning needs and connect physicians with peers in communities across Saskatchewan.

New-to-practice physicians in Saskatchewan often lack access to peer networks because of a lack of familiarity with our systems and professional networks. This new initiative will provide these physicians with mentorship and coaching resources, leading to increased work satisfaction, keeping them in these locations where they contribute to improved community health.

Evidence shows that new physicians are at increased risk of mental health challenges and burnout that can lead to them leaving their medical practices. It is important to ensure physicians working in the province’s many communities, both rural and urban, are supported effectively.

“Mentorship is a key support for physicians and the SMA views this initiative as supporting retention and wellness issues within the profession,” said Dr. John Gjevre, the president of the SMA. “Mentorship makes for healthier, more effective doctors, and enhanced care for patients, all of which are goals of the SMA’s activities. This mentorship program is a much-needed new facet of medicine in Saskatchewan, and I am sure that it will provide dividends in the long term.”

By providing new physicians with these resources, the program aims to increase retention, while improving their career engagement, reducing burnout, improving patient care, and incorporating ongoing improvements in their medical practice. It is patterned after a physician mentorship model successfully implemented in other Canadian provinces.

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