Following a review of health care in Alberta, the Health Quality Council released a report in February that has precipitated much dialogue about the current state of the provincial health-care system and where it’s headed.
Two of those town hall health-care discussions happened in Calgary and Edmonton, on March 6 and 12 respectively. However, there have been far fewer opportunities for rural communities to be engaged in not only these larger conversations, but also in the ones that pertain directly to non-metro areas.
The Alberta Rural Physician Action Plan (RPAP) celebrates its 20th anniversary this year. After beginning operations in 1992, the RPAP has worked tirelessly with rural communities and others to attract and retain physicians, while assuring that the physicians in these outlying areas, whether early in their career or as a long-standing member of the medical community, have the skills they need to care for their patients. We work closely with resident physicians to supply rural training and support medical students to help encourage a career in rural Alberta by taking them on skills days and by providing shadowing opportunities to rural physicians.
But these supports do not happen in isolation. Without the commitment of the physicians in non-metro areas, and the support of the communities they serve the RPAP could not help guide the new generation of physicians through the sometimes challenging navigational waters of becoming a rural physician. So, to the communities throughout the province who recognize the importance of a rural physician, we thank you. And, to the rural doctors who dedicate their time to helping medical students, resident physicians and international physician recruits, we applaud your ongoing efforts.
One way to recognize the physician in your community, or the community at large for outstanding efforts in attracting or retaining a local rural physician, is through the RPAP awards program. For more information on these awards or RPAP, go to www.rpap.ab.ca.
On March 30, National Doctors’ Day, we salute physicians everywhere, and ask that all people in Alberta, where in an urban or rural area, take the time to recognize all that doctors dedicate to their patients, year round.
Executive director, RPAP