Getting to know: Katie Meisner, Physician Recruitment Consultant
It’s Monday morning, and Katie Meisner already has two, growing “to do” lists to keep her week on track. The physician recruitment consultant for NSHA’s central zone (Halifax Regional Municipality, Eastern Shore and West Hants areas) will wear many hats this week, including physician liaison, chauffeur, and real estate agent – and she knows there is a lot at stake.
“I’m working on a site visit itinerary for a physician who is coming from the UK next week,” she said. “We will probably visit three clinics. I am also setting up appointments so she can check out a few schools in her desired area. And I will likely drive her through a few neighbourhoods just to give her a sense of the real estate market and what is available to her family if they choose to come to Nova Scotia.”
Other items on Katie’s list: prepare marketing materials that showcase practice opportunities for a family medicine resident job fair on Friday; draft an offer letter for a physician; complete immigration forms for two physicians that are planning to relocate from the UK; and meet a family medicine resident to talk about current opportunities and incentives if she stays in this province.
“There’s a lot going on and there are a lot of folks counting on me to provide them with information or arrange things for them, so trying to keep it all straight can be challenging.”
Katie is one of five recruitment consultants around the province that act as initial contacts for physicians with an interest in Nova Scotia. Ultimately, the goal is to help find a perfect match between a candidate and an existing practice. Katie says the job also requires building strong relationships – with both local and visiting physicians.
“Physicians trust us because we are here for them from the beginning,” she said. “We become like the glue that brings everything together in order for them to come – site visits (to clinics), any immigration paperwork, licensure – and while some of those pieces are not ours to own, we support the physician however we can as they go through this process.”
That process for the recruitment team may even include scouting out recreational facilities or helping a physician’s spouse find work by connecting them with local recruitment agencies.
“During our first conversation we ask about lifestyle preferences and family circumstances. For example, what grade level are your kids in? Are you looking for private or public school? Is your moving here contingent upon your spouse finding work? Once we have that inventory of what this family needs to move to Nova Scotia then we get to work to make that happen.”
As a result, Katie and her counterparts have become skilled at promoting the cities, towns and villages they work in, often with the help of community leaders and others. But Katie says some of the best promotion happens when candidates get to interact with the Nova Scotians they meet.
“I had a UK physician here last week who was in a convenience store with water under one arm and a bag of groceries under the other. A young cashier saw this, ran from behind the counter and opened the door for him as he walked out. He was absolutely floored because where he comes from, that just doesn’t happen. So I can speak all day long about what it’s like to live in Nova Scotia and how great the people, the views and our wonderful outdoors are, but it’s Nova Scotians and their Maritime charm and hospitality that are helping to sell this province. That girl – whoever she is, made a big difference that day without even realizing it.”
Making a difference is what motivates Katie every day, especially now that she sees evidence that NSHA’s recruitment program, in place almost two years, is really taking hold.
“Things are changing – we are filling vacancies. A lot of the physicians who are now in or going into practice in July, August, September and onward, that’s the result of work that has happened over at least 12 months. I’m not sure if people understand that.
As a service, we’ve accomplished a lot in a short time – that feels really great. I’m excited for where we are headed. There are a lot of good people, doing good work and going full throttle, making sure we leave no stone unturned.”