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.