Future Doctors Call on Politicians to Help Broaden the Make-up of Canada's
Medical Schools

OTTAWA, March 29 /CNW Telbec/ - The Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS) is taking the voice of Canada's physicians-in-training to Parliament Hill today during its Federal Lobby Day. Medical students from across Canada will meet with over 100 Members of Parliament and Senators to discuss the inadequate representation of rural and low socioeconomic groups in Canadian medical schools.

The CFMS believes that the inadequate admission of low-income and rural students is a problem that is reducing the number of physicians practicing in underserviced areas. According to a 2001 CFMS survey, 29.1% of Canadian medical students come from homes where the parental income is above $120,000 whereas only 15.4% are from homes of income less than $40,000. Furthermore, only 10.8% of students are of rural origin - despite the fact that 22.4% of Canadians live in rural areas.

"This has clear implications for our health care system", said Tyler Johnston, CFMS president. "Students with rural backgrounds are 2.5 times more likely to practice in a rural community and students with low-income backgrounds are more likely to serve low-income patients. They are also more likely to be family doctors which would help reduce the shortage."

"The CFMS will be calling on federal policy-makers to acknowledge that the lack of diversity in medicine is an important health care issue and to commit to working towards short term and long term solutions," added Harbir S. Gill, Chair of the CFMS Political Advocacy Committee.

The CFMS will be discussing some of these solutions, including the establishment of a task force to investigate methods to increase diversity in medical schools, such as those initiated in Australia and the United States. Medical schools in Australia were offered incentives to increase enrolment of rural students. Grant programs were created in the United States to assist low-income medical students in financial need.

"These are fairly simple solutions with a proven track record," concluded Ijab Khanafer, Vice President of Communications. "They may cost a little more, but the investment will pay significant dividends for Canadians in the long run."

The Canadian Federation of Medical Students is a student-led national organization that represents over 7,000 medical students at 14 medical schools across Canada.

SOURCE Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS)

For further information: For further information: Ijab Khanafer, Vice President of Communications, Canadian Federation of Medical Students, Cell: (613) 698-9664, vpcommunications@cfms.org

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Canadian Federation of Medical Students (CFMS)

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