Lloydminster residents will now have better access to family physicians as four more have been recruited to the Prairie North Health Region though the Saskatchewan International Physician Practice Assessment (SIPPA) program.
With these new physicians practicing in Lloydminster it is also hoped that some pressure will be relieved from local emergency rooms.
“I think in the last little while we are seeing a significant decrease in the number of ER visits, and as such, the wait time in our ER has significantly improved as well,” said David Fan, CEO of PNHR. “So in a lot of ways, I think given the number of family physicians in practice in this community, with the latest four setting up practices, have gone a long way to serving this community well.”
The program SIPPA was made in Saskatchewan to formally assess foreign-trained physicians, sometimes referred to as international medical graduates (IMGs), and involves a stringent process that is split up into two phases.
“Phase 1 is really a clinical assessment process where they get assessed on their credentials, training and academic background by taking some mandatory exams,” said Fan. “And if they make it through phase one they will enter Phase 2, which is called clinical assessment.”
The clinical assessment involves having physicians go into the field where they are assessed on the job, which typically takes six to 12 weeks. If they pass both of these phases they will be able to get licensed to practice in Saskatchewan.
“So I think it is a very good program and it allows Saskatchewan to formally assess those IMGs and making sure that they meet acceptable standard of practice in Saskatchewan, and for that matter, in this country.”
Fan said Lloydminster has benefited from the SIPPA program over the last three or four years with a total of 18 physicians coming through and setting up practices in that time.
This number represents a 69 per cent increase on the family physician resource side of things and he said PNHR hasn’t heard complaints about families or individuals not able to find a family physician for quite some time now.
See “Physicians,” Page 4
“The other indicator for us is really the number of visits to our ER. In the past because of the low number of family physicians in practice in this community, and people are struggling to find family physicians, the only option left for them is to access ER, which is not the best place for everyday basic service.”
Dr. Celestine Ezumah, Dr. Manal Loka and Dr. Sherief Takla will all be practicing at the Prairie North Health Clinic, while Dr. Ali Jadidizadeh will be working out of a private clinic.