Residents of the Northeast Avalon have little difficulty getting a family physician, and many will have the same physician for much of their adult lives. However, in rural parts of Newfoundland and Labrador, access to physician services is much more tenuous. If you live in rural parts of this province, your doctor is more likely to have received his or her medical training outside of Canada and, more than any other part of the country, he or she is not yet likely to have met Canadian licensing standards. In addition, once licensed, your physician is more likely to move to another province. The turn-over of physicians means that you may have several different doctors during your lifetime.
Does this mean that residents of rural areas receive inferior health care, or just different health care? What implications does this difference have to the quality of life of rural areas and to their economic sustainability?
What can be done to improve rural practice and rural health care? Are Canadian medical schools doing enough to encourage students to choose rural practice? What can provincial governments do to ensure that rural areas are adequately serviced by physicians? Is the recruiting of immigrant physicians the answer? Does the regionalization of health care boards allow for the sharing of medical services, or does it simply centralize services in major centres? And, finally, what can communities do to entice and retain physicians?
Dr. Rick Audas, an assistant professor of health statistics and economics with Memorial University’s Faculty of Medicine, presented the findings of his research on rural physicians. He was accompanied by three panelists:
1 Please note that, due to scheduling concerns, two of the speakers listed on the poster had to withdraw after the posters had been printed; the program contains the accurate list of the speakers at the event.