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REF NO.: 299

SUBJECT: New study shows Memorial's medical school is making a major contribution to supply of province's doctors
DATE: May 23, 2006

A new study by Dr. Maria Mathews, assistant professor of Health Policy and Health Care Delivery at Memorial University of Newfoundland (MUN), shows that the university's medical school is making a major contribution to the supply of full-licensed doctors practicing in Newfoundland and Labrador, including rural communities.
"Physicians trained at MUN make up more than half of all doctors in the province with about one-fifth of those working in the province's rural areas," said Dr. Mathews.
A second part of the study looked at where residents trained at Memorial are working. "Nearly 60 per cent of all fully licensed doctors practicing in the province in 2004 did their postgraduate training at MUN, including one-quarter of those serving the province's rural communities," she said.
The study shows that almost 13 per cent of MUN medical graduates were working in rural communities with a population of fewer than 10,000 throughout Canada in 2003. "This represents five per cent of the rural physician workforce nation-wide and about one-fifth of Newfoundland and Labrador's supply of rural doctors."
Dr. Mathews said there are a number of factors that predict where MUN graduates end up practicing medicine. "Medical graduates who have a rural background, are originally from the province, or do some or all of their postgraduate training at MUN are more likely to work in Newfoundland and Labrador. Fifty-five per cent of MUN graduates with a rural background who did some or all of their residency training at Memorial were working in the province in 2004."
The dean of Medicine at Memorial, Dr. James Rourke, noted that over 40 per cent of medical students at MUN come from rural areas, compared to a Canadian average of 11 per cent. He said that of the 822 fully licensed doctors in Newfoundland and Labrador, 237 are graduates of Memorial's medical school and another 208 MUN medical graduates are in specialist practice.
Based on the findings in her study, Dr. Mathews has the following recommendations for the province and Memorial University.
  • MUN should identify and build upon those aspects of the medical school's residency program that influence physicians to practice in Newfoundland and Labrador, including its rural communities.
  • The province should provide incentives for MUN's medical school graduates to do their residency training at Memorial University.
  • MUN should increase, or at the very least maintain, the number of medical school seats reserved for Newfoundland and Labrador students. The province should encourage and support students from rural areas to study medicine.
  • MUN should develop strategies aimed at encouraging more international medical graduates who go through the university's residency programs to set up practice in Newfoundland and Labrador.

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