Fund­ing to sup­port ru­ral doc­tors


Fed­eral money is on the way to put more doc­tors-in-train­ing in ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador com­mu­ni­ties.

Sen­a­tor Fabian Man­ning, on be­half of fed­eral Health Min­is­ter Leona Aglukkaq, an­nounced Wed­nes­day that $4.5 mil­lion is be­ing pro­vided to Me­mo­rial Univer­sity’s Fac­ulty of Medicine to fund 16 new po­si­tions in its fam­ily medicine res­i­dency pro­gram.

Fund­ing for the ini­tia­tive is be­ing pro­vided by the Pan-Cana­dian Health Hu­man Re­sources Strat­egy and is ex­pected to be in place to al­low the first four new res­i­dents (newly grad­u­ated doc­tors) to start their po­si­tions in July. The money will fi­nance four po­si­tions a year for four years.

The hope is that the in­vest­ment will lead to more young doc­tors choos­ing to prac­tise medicine in ru­ral New­found­land and Labrador com­mu­ni­ties over the longterm, said Man­ning.

“ We cer­tainly hope that the ex­pe­ri­ence of many of those res­i­dents (will lead them) to es­tab­lish prac­tices in places they may not have con­sid­ered other­wise,” he said.

Dr. Colin New­man, a first-year fam­ily medicine res­i­dent, be­lieves strongly this will be the case.

“It’s fan­tas­tic. More res­i­dents are al­ways a good thing,” said New­man, orig­i­nally from Grand Falls-Wind­sor. “ Res­i­dents come to the pro­gram, and most of the res­i­dents are from here. Not all are, but even ones who aren’t from here, a lot of them tend to stay here and prac­tise,” he said.

Par­tic­i­pants in the fam­ily medicine pro­gram spend their time train­ing in New­found­land and Labrador com­mu­ni­ties with pop­u­la­tions un­der 15,000. They take on a va­ri­ety of tasks, ev­ery­thing from do­ing a sim­ple health check to de­liv­er­ing a baby and be­yond.

They gain ex­pe­ri­ence in deal­ing with a va­ri­ety of is­sues, many of which they might not see reg­u­larly in larger ur­ban cen­tres.

Me­mo­rial’s fam­ily medicine pro­gram was es­tab­lished in 1973 and has been rec­og­nized as one of the best of its kind in Canada for many years, said Dr. James Rourke, dean of MUN medicine and pro­fes­sor of fam­ily medicine.

“ We’ve been do­ing a re­ally good job here, but we haven’t had the ca­pac­ity ( for more stu­dents),” said Rourke.

“ So we’re de­lighted to have this sup­port to be able to ex­pand our ca­pac­ity to bet­ter meet the needs of the peo­ple of New­found­land and Labrador,” he said.

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