Watch above: A record number of med school grads at the University of Alberta have chosen to pursue family medicine. As Su-Ling Goh reports, it’s good news for rural communities.
EDMONTON – The University of Alberta is graduating a record number of family doctors. Of those new doctors, a high number are heading to rural communities, in part because of some recently introduced programs at the University.
The 74 new family MDs make up just under half of the spring graduating class from the U of A’s Faculty of Medicine. The percentage of doctors who choose family practice has been on the rise in recent years – the current 44 per cent has doubled from 22 per cent in 2006.
“I believe the students who want to do a little bit of everything are predisposed to family medicine,” said Douglas Miller, the dean of the Medicine.
The number of rural doctors is perhaps even better news. Eleven family doctors are choosing to practice in rural northern Alberta. This is a welcome upward trend according to Miller, who says that there is always a shortage of doctors in rural settings.
While being a small town family doctor may not carry as much prestige as being a specialist at an urban hospital, the chair of the department of family medicine sees the appeal.
“It’s endlessly challenging and interesting, and we family physicians develop strong and rewarding relationships with our patients. That’s appealing to students,” said Lee Green.
Bailey Adams is one of the new GPs who is looking to set up in a small community. She is city born and raised, although her husband is from a small town. She is moving to Grand Prarie within weeks.
“We want to raise our kids in a small town,” Bailey told Global News.
“I did some of the rural programs to see if I liked it and I loved it – so now that’s where we’re going,” she continued.
Her rural journey started when she spent a month in Peace River through the Preclinical Networked Medical Education program. The program was introduced in 2011 to allow students to engage in rural medicine. She gained further small town experience in Hinton by enrolling in the Integrated Community Clerkship program.
Fraser Brenneis , vice dean of medicine, indicated that such programs are a factor in the large number of rural doctors.
“Programs like these are undeniably impactful in exposing students to opportunities to see, live, and train in a rural community and to imagine themselves being able to do the work,” Brenneis said.
With files from Su-Ling Goh, Global News
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