Why 2 U.K. family doctors are choosing to call Halifax home

Two family doctors from the U.K. say they were all set to move to Toronto when a last–minute conversation with a former colleague convinced them that their futures are in Halifax.

Baldeep and Kiran Bains are packing up their lives in London and moving with their two young children to Nova Scotia at the end of August.

“This is the chance of a lifetime,” said Baldeep Bains. “Essentially we fell in love with the place. We didn’t quite expect it.”

The couple’s daughters are ages two and four, and Baldeep and Kiran found it a struggle to balance family life with working conditions in London. Most of their family has moved to North America, and they decided that it was time to follow suit.

“It’s an interesting time being a doctor in the U.K.,” said Kiran Bains. “There is a lot of challenges at the moment.

“I enjoy being a family physician where I particularly work. But I do want a better quality of life, something that I think can be difficult to achieve if you’re a family physician in the U.K.”

In April, the Bainses arranged to go on an eight-day visit to Toronto to meet with clinics and look for new jobs.

Former colleague suggests detour to Nova Scotia

They figured it would be an easy transition, moving to another large city where some family members were already established.

That’s when a former colleague, Dr. Sundeep Chohan, suggested a detour — a three-day stop in Halifax. There was still snow on the ground when they landed.

“It was beautiful,” Kiran Bains said. “It offers us the city life that we’re used to but it also gives us something different that the city doesn’t offer, which is the nature.”

While Nova Scotia’s doctor shortage has been a constant message in the headlines, the Bainses say they were reassured by Chohan, who moved to the city a year ago.

Province has worked to recruit in U.K., Ireland

This is what the province and the Nova Scotia Health Authority have been banking on. For the past two years, they’ve invested heavily in recruiting doctors from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia largely accepts their credentials, and there aren’t language barriers.

The province also created a new fast-track immigration stream specifically for doctors. Thirty-six doctors have used that system since last February, according to provincial numbers.

The Bainses say it’s appealing to be needed. They see it as a chance to make a difference.

“It’s nice to feel that you can contribute and people actually appreciate your presence, appreciate what you are providing for the community here,” said Baldeep Bains. “I think it’s not something I get a lot in London.”

Community has been helpful

They say people have gone out of their way to help them find a house, using word of mouth to find properties that they never would have seen otherwise.

“I don’t know where else I’d find this,” said Kiran Bains.

The Bainses will spend the week deciding on a clinic, knowing that they’ll be bombarded with requests from new patients.

As of July 1, 52,086 Nova Scotians were registered on a waitlist to find a new family doctor.

The doctors have already had a taste of the need. Pretty much everyone they’ve met, they say, has said they know someone who would love to be their patient.

“I mean it’s really nice to feel very welcomed.”

Once they officially land at the end of August, they want their daughters to experience life on the coast. They have plans to take them to the beach and enjoy the trails near the city.

The doctors also have goals for themselves.

Kiran Bains is excited to learn how to surf, no matter how cold the water is. Her husband already has his sights set on going out in the harbour on a jet ski.

“It’s just the variety of things you can do here in Halifax and especially with kids,” he said. “You know it’s just it’s fantastic. You know, I can’t compare it to London.”

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