CEO Statement: Physician, Nurse and Nurse Practitioner Recruitment

(HORIZON) – Despite the unprecedented challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, Horizon has maintained an aggressive, proactive and innovative approach to physician recruitment over the course of the past year.

And while there are obvious challenges in trying to make connections with candidates in a global climate where travel and in-person contact are restricted, there have also been many success stories, which is a testament to the level of creativity and commitment that exists within our organization.

Within the last six months, Horizon has successfully recruited a total of 28 family physicians across our coverage area – in both urban and rural settings – who have either already opened a practice or will be opening their practice in the very near future.

More broadly speaking, a total of 78 family physicians have been hired by Horizon since July 2019 and have either started their work or will start their work in the coming months.

This is cast against the departure/retirement of 40 family physicians over that same timeframe, representing a net increase of 38 physicians.

These are just a couple of examples of how physician recruitment – and indeed recruitment in general – has long been a top priority at Horizon, as success on this front is essential in securing the future sustainability of our health care system and improving access to primary care.

Horizon has also made noticeable progress with the recruitment of Nurse Practitioners and nurses over the past year.

For fiscal 2020-21, we’ve successfully recruited nine NPs and continue to offer permanent employment to qualified candidates.  And of the 17 NP positions that are currently unfilled, only two of these have had no applicants.

We take these responsibilities extremely seriously and, to this end, we continue to leave no stone unturned in our efforts to attract qualified physicians, nurse practitioners and other health care workers to our organization and ultimately keep them in our beautiful province for the long-term.

We are, however, quite literally competing in a fierce global competition for a limited pool of qualified candidates, which creates obvious challenges.

So, too, does the changing nature of medicine as a profession, as many younger physicians are indicating they would rather practice in collaborative, team-based environments with more manageable patient rosters and better work-life balance than their predecessors.

It is why we work closely and collaboratively with our partners, including the New Brunswick Medical Society – with whom Horizon was an early collaborator in the implementation  of the Family Medicine New Brunswick (FMNB) program – as well as with the Government of New Brunswick and a number of post-secondary institutions. 

In order to stand out from the crowd, Horizon has had to be strategic and targeted in our approach to recruitment, which means connecting with the right candidates at the right time and cultivating those relationships organically.

In terms of our recruitment efforts on the nursing side, we are offering candidates for hard-to-recruit positions a $10,000 incentive as supported by the Department of Health, as per an interim agreement signed with New Brunswick Nurses Union.

We have also been contacting all RNs who chose to leave Horizon in fiscal 2020-21 to get more insight into their decision and to explore any potential interest in returning.

Despite the pandemic, our teams haveremained actively involved in a variety of recruitment initiatives, including taking part in dozens of virtual events while maintaining open lines of communication with various partner groups and stakeholders.

Horizon also prioritized the development of a new HR marketing campaign and branding strategy entitled ‘Hey You’, which is another initiative we are very proud of. 

Our staff often go the extra mile: picking up candidates at the airport, driving them around to see the community or, as one of them was doing just this week, picking up groceries for a new physician who was required to self-isolate for 14 days.

This level of dedication speaks to the expertise that exists within Horizon and aligns with the major pillars of our new five-year Strategic Plan.

This work is far from over, and the road ahead will not be easy. New Brunswick continues to age at a faster rate than nearly any other jurisdiction in Canada and these rapidly changing demographics, among other factors, have placed an immense amount of pressure on our health care system.

Our sense of resolve to overcoming these challenges collaboratively and strategically remains steadfast, and we look forward to sharing more updates on our efforts as we move forward.

Karen McGrath

President and CEO
Horizon Health Network