Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine is this year’s winner of the Rural Education Award from the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC). This award is given annually to recognize a medical school which has excelled in producing graduates headed for a career in rural medicine.
This year the SRPC looked for the medical school matching the most graduates to a rural family medicine program in the 2007 Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) match. Memorial excelled by a significant margin, with 26 per cent of total graduates matching to a rural family medicine residency. This compares to a national average of about seven per cent and is double the percentage of the next highest medical school.
Dr. James Rourke, dean of medicine at Memorial University, will accept the award on the evening of April 19 in Halifax at the annual conference of the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada. “This award is a tribute to the effort our medical school makes in making sure our students have experience in rural communities,” he said. “First-year medical students at MUN spend two weeks in the rural community health rotation as one way of establishing this knowledge base. Second-year students are introduced to community work during a two-week community health/family medicine visit. Almost all Memorial medical students do part of their third year clinical clerkship rotations beyond St. John's at sites throughout the province. The electives program further promotes rural experience for those interested in a particular location or practice experience.”
Dr. Rourke said it is no surprise that such a high percentage of MUN’s medical graduates choose a rural family medicine residency. “Forty per cent of our students are originally from rural communities and we know that 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. The strong family medicine education we provide at Goose Bay attracts many of our residents, and we will build on that model of education in the future.”
Dr. Rourke said Memorial’s medical school is working with the provincial government on strategies to encourage doctors who choose rural medicine to stay in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“Our medical school will be expanding its undergraduate medical curriculum starting in the fall of 2008, allowing for an increase in undergraduate medical school enrolment from the current 60 per year to 78 within the next five years. This means up to 20 more students from Newfoundland and Labrador will be able to become physicians, trained in Newfoundland and Labrador for Newfoundland and Labrador, and we are sure that many of these future doctors will choose to work in rural areas of the province.”