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Bridging the Gap: A Revolution in Rural Healthcare for Alberta 

Posted on April 18, 2024 by Vauxhall Advance

Over the past few years, I have been hearing a very clear message from constituents in Cardston-Siksika. A concern that is on the minds of many families and individuals throughout Alberta.

A lack of primary care physicians and travelling long distances to seek care is causing real hardships. In a direct response to these concerns, I am incredibly proud to be part of a new program that will directly address this problem.

Our government is working with the province’s two leading post-secondary institutions, the universities of Alberta and Calgary, to establish Rural Medical Education Program Training Centres (RMEPTC’s) in Lethbridge and Grand Prairie.

These new medical training programs will be a game changer. Not just a policy shift; it is a direct lifeline to underserved rural communities, offering more than just hope, delivering concrete solutions.

In the words Rajan Sawhney, Minister of Advanced Education, “it’s clear that timely medical care should be a right accessible to all Albertans, regardless of where they live.” This belief is the foundation of the RMEPTC (Rural Medical Education Program Training Centres) initiative, aiming to “recruit in rural, train in rural, stay in rural,” a principle that promises to change the face of rural healthcare. 

The introduction of these training centres promises to significantly boost the number of physicians in rural Alberta and indigenous communities. But more than just increasing numbers, this initiative will ensure the development of a healthcare system more deeply connected to the unique needs of rural communities.

Even more importantly, these new training centres represent a pivotal moment for rural Albertans aspiring to careers in medicine, breaking down barriers to medical education. It is not about just adding physicians to rural areas and indigenous communities; it is about training doctors with deep community ties, ensuring their long-term commitment. 

An immediate benefit of the new centres will be the expanded access to physicians within the communities and regions that they serve. Local medical students will be doing residencies in rural hospitals and new training clinics will serve more patients in the community.

This will reduce the need for excessive travel and waiting times for medical services and ease the pressure on families who are without a primary care physician. This immediate impact underscores the centres’ role not just in education but in directly enhancing community health service.

The establishment of these new Rural Medical Education Training Program Centres will have a lasting impact on Cardston-Siksika. The challenges of rural and indigenous healthcare are complex and require ongoing innovation and commitment. Supporting and expanding on this new opportunity is crucial to building a better future for rural healthcare in Alberta.

I would like to thank the many constituents who have written, called, and spoke to me in person about this issue. These new training centres are a result of rural MLA’s who have been advocating for them. 

We heard loud and clear how important the issue of rural healthcare is for you and your family. These new training centres will increase the number of doctors practicing in rural Alberta, and we will continue to support them so that your family has access to the care they need.

Joseph Schow, Minister of Tourism and Sport

Cardston-Siksika MLA

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