News Release

REF NO.: 85

SUBJECT: Memorial University best in Canada for producing rural doctors

DATE: May 17, 2016

The Faculty of Medicine at Memorial University of Newfoundland has received a prestigious national award for rural medicine.

The Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC) has awarded Memorial with the 2016 Keith Award, given annually to a Canadian postgraduate medical program that has excelled in producing rural doctors.

This year’s Keith Award looked at the largest number of graduates practising in rural areas 10 years after graduation. As the top medical school in the country, Memorial’s average was 38.9 per cent; the national average was 18 per cent. Family medicine residents were taken into account and identified through the Canadian Post-MD Educational Registry. Practice locations were identified from the Canadian Medical Association database 10 years later.

Memorial’s postgraduate residency training program in family medicine provides an opportunity for training physicians to take advantage of specific locations available to them.

The program’s unique training model includes streams sites in Newfoundland and Labrador ranging from eastern, central and western regions, as well as the NorFam training centre in Goose Bay, N.L., and the new site in Nunavut. These locations allow training residents to complete the vast majority, if not all, of their training within a particular geographical area.

Medical student Loni Slade is graduating on June 2. She will start her family medicine residency in the central stream, which was her first choice in a residency program.

 “I chose the central Newfoundland and Labrador family medicine stream because in addition to being close to my hometown of Deer Lake, I will get to train in several rural communities throughout the area and each site will provide unique training exposures and hands-on experiences,” she said. “Thanks to Memorial, I will receive excellent training that will fully prepare me for any situation or challenges I may face in my future career and practice.”

Dr. James Rourke, dean of the Faculty of Medicine at Memorial, says that to help establish a strong connection to rural medicine, all students in the degree of doctor of medicine (MD) program have extensive training and exposure to rural teaching sites throughout the province, as well as opportunities to visit sites in Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Nunavut and the Yukon.

“Recognizing our province’s demographic make-up and the location of many communities in rural and remote areas, the Faculty of Medicine has always made rural medicine training a priority,” said Dr. Rourke. “We take every step of their training seriously to ensure they can be the best health-care providers in any location.”

As well, the MD program provides a spiral curriculum with rural content interwoven with clinical skills right from the beginning. This innovative curriculum incorporates a narrative approach that allows students to learn about the people and places of Newfoundland and Labrador. By looking at communities and case studies of realistic patients, students have both the information and context to understand issues with much more complexity and depth. These factors encourage students to develop deeper connections to rural communities as they learn from local physicians and interact with patients.

The award was presented on May 6 at the annual Rural and Remote Medicine Course in Charleviox, Que. Dr. Wendy Graham, an associate professor and family physician who has more than 17 years of practice in Port aux Basques, N.L., was on hand to accept the award.

“It was an honour and a privilege to accept the Keith Award on behalf of Memorial University and the Faculty of Medicine,” said Dr. Graham. “Memorial's MD

program and family medicine program prepared me to practise in my rural community with competence, confidence and clinical courage. This is essential in our setting of rugged geography, unpredictable weather and isolation.”

Dr. Graham said she has seen first-hand how Memorial’s rich teaching programs are structured to meet the needs of rural and remote communities. Rural doctors are required to develop a skill set well beyond what may be expected in a typical primary care setting in a larger community.

This is the fifth time Memorial University has received the Keith Award since it was introduced in 2000. In 2009 Memorial also received the society’s rural education award for excellence in producing MD graduates headed to a career in rural medicine.

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