A Case Study of Canada’s Rural Practice Training 21st-Century Journey
Keywords:rural, rural health, rural healthcare, rural medicine, rural family physician, rural medical education, rural generalist, rural training, rural practice
Canada is a vast country with about one-fifth of its 37 million people living in rural areas. Many of those, especially Indigenous Canadians living in remote communities, face serious challenges accessing equitable healthcare. Dedicated general practitioners/family physicians have provided most of the generalist medical care in rural and remote communities with specialist care and resources most often limited or distant. There have always been some medical schools that have provided exceptional training for physicians to practice in rural communities. Since 2000, there has been more focus (and progress) on the development of rural training pathways to develop more physicians with both the interest and appropriate skills for rural generalist practice.
While recognizing that the pathways to rural practice begin before medical school, and extend into practice, this case study will focus on postgraduate vocational residency training for rural family practice. It will highlight the challenges and successes of the significant policy, planning and program steps along that journey with particular attention to the roles of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC) and the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC). The interplay of medical education and healthcare delivery is complex. For meaningful progress, collaboration is vital, but it is a challenge to achieve. Indeed, collaborative multi-stakeholder action is the essential innovative solution in the development of the rural training pathways in Canada.
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