Training Rural Family Physicians Not Enough

    SHAWVILLE, QC, July 18 /CNW Telbec/ - The Society of Rural Physicians of
Canada (SRPC) says a recent study showing that no medical residents completing
postgraduate training in family medicine at the University of Calgary had
definite long-term plans to open a rural practice is a sobering warning for
Canada's health care system. The study, in the recent issue of Canadian Family
Physician, examined the career intentions of 17 second-year family medicine
residents. The study found 15 planned to practice in an urban setting, while 2
were uncertain of their long-term plans.
    "These findings are particularly worrisome given the fact that a major
focus of the University of Calgary residency program is to grow rural
physicians," said Dr. Karl Stobbe, President of the Society of Rural
Physicians of Canada.
    To help correct the dire shortage of physicians in rural areas, the SRPC
is calling for a Pan-Canadian Rural Health Strategy, with supports not just
for physicians but citizens in rural communities.
    "Studies show that physicians want to study in rural areas due to the
quality of the training," said Dr. Stobbe. "But if most plan to practice in
the city, that says that we need to do more to get doctors to practice in
regions of greatest need."
    The SRPC plan calls for the federal, provincial and territorial
governments to work together to ensure every rural Canadian has:

    - Access to a well-trained rural family physician;
    - Access to emergency and other general hospital services within a
      reasonable time and distance;
    - Access to specialized diagnosis and treatment within an integrated
      system with outcomes comparable to patients who live in cities.

    "We need programs that train doctors who want to meet society's greatest
needs, and we need supports in place to ensure they can stay there and care
for their patients," said Dr. Stobbe. "Nothing short of a national rural
health strategy is capable of doing that."
    The SRPC is also calling on the federal government to increase the number
of students from rural Canada in medical school, since students with rural
roots are more likely to return home to set up practice.
    "Studies show more medical students with rural backgrounds choose rural
medical practice, while only one in twenty urban based students do so," said
Dr. Stobbe. "By creating training programs for those entering rural medicine
and interested in surgery, maternity care, anesthesia, endoscopy, cardiac
care, geriatric care, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, aboriginal health and
others, even more students would be interested in rural medicine."

    The Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC) is the national voice of
Canadian rural physicians. Founded in 1992, the SRPC's mission is to provide
leadership for rural physicians and to promote sustainable conditions and
equitable health care for rural communities. On behalf of its members and the
Canadian public, SRPC performs a wide variety of functions, such as developing
and advocating health delivery mechanisms, supporting rural doctors and
communities in crisis, promoting and delivering rural medical education,
encouraging and facilitating research into rural health issues, and fostering
communication among rural physicians and other groups with an interest in
rural health care. The SRPC is a voluntary professional organization
representing over 2,500 of Canada's rural physicians and comprising 5 regional
divisions spanning the country.

For further information:

For further information: Lee Teperman, SRPC National Office, (819)

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