New doctor recruited to Melfort attracted by community

SHA Photo Dr. Evan Mah began working in Melfort in October of 2023.

The City of Melfort gained a new physician in Dr. Evan Mah in the fall of 2023. The

Saskatchewan Health Authority (SHA) announced the successful recruitment in April.

Mah is one of several new physicians hired in rural Saskatchewan over the past year thanks to the Government of Saskatchewan Health Human Resources Plan.

Mah said he was drawn to Melfort because of the proximity to his family in Regina and the mentorship offered by experienced physicians in the community.

“Melfort was attractive for its size for the practice that I wanted to have,” he explained. “It’s not too small where you’re on your own as a physician, or there’s only one or two providers. It’s got a big enough practice that there are other people around that if you need help, you can rely on.”

In addition, Mah was able to further his surgical skills training in Prince Albert prior to opening his practice through the University of Saskatchewan’s (USask) Enhanced Surgical Skills (ESS) program.

The ESS program gives general practitioners an opportunity to receive more training in surgery and obstetrics, preparing them with the skill to provide emergency treatments such as Caesarian sections, appendectomies and abscess removals, along with tests like gastroscopies and colonoscopies.

Mah, who grew up in Regina, brings a wealth of family medicine training to the community on top of an additional year of residency through the ESS program.

He said having Prince Albert physicians and specialists available for support is also beneficial.

“The training program that Prince Albert offers is currently the only one in the country, so it’s very unique from that point. It’s great that we can train doctors locally and it’s been nice that we’ve been able to stay locally,” Mah said.

He added that Melfort having a general surgeon (Dr. Yemi Laoesebikan) made the location attractive. He said the other doctors have also been supportive.

“Doing the extra training in Prince Albert, the enhanced surgical skills program, being able to offer extra or more delivery service, doing more deliveries, doing some endoscopy and some minor surgeries locally and having that our general surgeon Doctor Laosebikan as a mentor was really, really valuable,” Mah explained.

Mah added that the community being close to lakes in northern Saskatchewan was also a bonus.

“We quite liked the northern part of the province being closer to the lakes and the trees and so it was a good fit for us from that standpoint,” Mah said.

Melfort has also welcomed Mah with open arms and he has given back.

“The community has been great,” he said. “We’ve been able to get involved with some of the community activities kind of outside of work. We have been participating in some events and fundraisers in the community, so that’s been nice.”

Mah added that it very rewarding to help patients stay close to their family and not leave their home to get care.

Mah got his first taste of rural medicine during medical school, and quickly realized that was the career path he wanted to take. He took advantage of additional College of Medicine programs to prepare himself for life as a rural physician, such as the Saskatchewan Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (SLIC) in Meadow Lake.

Mah said working alongside dedicated rural physicians in clinic, hospital, and community settings gave him a fantastic educational foundation and inspired him to continue.

Further incentives through the Government of Saskatchewan’s Rural Physician Incentive Program (RPIP), including a financial bonus offered by the City of Melfort to physicians who practice within the community for at least two years, all added up to the community’s successful recruitment.

Mah took up the city’s offer of a $20,000 bonus in exchange for working in the community for a minimum of two years.

“We’ve been very fortunate,” he said. “Then the city was able to find a bit of a financial assistance to kind to help recruit me, which was very beneficial as well, just with coming out with student debt and stuff, so it made the choice a little bit easier.”

Melfort’s city council officially approved the bonus at their meeting in October.

Mah said that it he appreciated the SHA and City of Melfort for supporting physicians in rural communities.
“Both financially, but also then through supports by continuing to fund our operating rooms and nursing staff to get training. We really appreciate all the work that it takes to be able to offer these services,” Mah said.

One of Melfort’s former top doctors, who recently moved to Candle Lake also appreciated him joining the team in Melfort.

“It’s exciting to see a skilled physician like Dr. Evan Mah choose to serve his province and practice in a rural community like Melfort,” Dr. Jordan Wingate, SHA Deputy Medical Officer said in a press release. “The value of a network of health-care practitioners to support and attract new physicians to rural and remote communities cannot be overstated. The citizens of Melfort are overjoyed to have him there.”

The RPIP offers physicians practicing in rural or remote communities an incentive of up to $200,000 over five years.