Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society provides grassroots leadership and an inclusive process, with a voice for all community members, to ensure that our community grows and develops in a way that incorporates an environmental ethic, offers a range of housing and transportation choices, encourages a vibrant and cultural life and supports sustainable, meaningful employment and business opportunities.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Michael's Musings

Selkirk College set to launch program to address rural medical doctor shortage

By Michael J Morris

Selkirk College is launching a program in the Fall of 2014 to help provide a solution to the rural doctor shortage in Canada.

According to a college news release, Selkirk has created the Rural Pre-Medicine Advanced Diploma and Associate Degree Program to be offered at its Castlegar Campus. The program will offer students wanting to pursue a career in medicine a three-year opportunity to learn at a rural college.

This is potentially great news for all communities in the East and West Kootenay regions of British Columbia as they face the challenges of recruiting new doctors who are likely to stay. 

And it is being developed locally although Selkirk in creating this program, has worked closely with the UBC Faculty of Medicine, the Rural Coordination Centre of BC (a joint venture of the BC Medical Association, the Ministry of Health and the UBC Faculty of Medicine), Native Education College, the Interior Health Authority, Columbia Basin Trust, local physicians, nurses, nurse practitioners and other health care providers.

“Selkirk College understands rural life and the challenges of living away from urban centres,” says Selkirk President Angus Graeme. “We saw a need in this province and across the country for this type of start to a career in medicine. We are extremely pleased to be part of what could be an important piece of the solution.”

The news release notes that research suggests there are many factors that contribute to the ongoing and increasingly severe shortage of rural doctors in Canada. Medical schools and various levels of government have developed a wide range of programs and  strategies to address some of these contributing factors. Selkirk College believes much more can be done at both the undergraduate and high school levels to encourage and support talented rural and Aboriginal students who wish to become physicians.

The Northern Ontario School of Medicine was set up at Laurentian University in Sudbury and Lakehead University in Thunder Bay by the Ontario government to address the same issue of physician shortage in rural Northern Ontario communities. While I do not know the overall results, my home town of Chapleau, now has three full-time family physicians who are graduates of the program.

They are from Chapleau, and after following other career paths, took advantage of the new program, and upon graduation returned home to practise medicine. Chapleau had been without a full-time doctor for several years.

The news release notes that, "A rural upbringing, combined with positive undergraduate and graduate rural exposure prior to and during medical school, are two factors consistently cited in recent research as the most important factors in determining whether a student will ultimately choose to practice in a rural environment. Rural and Aboriginal students face both real and perceived economic, social and educational barriers to becoming a physician. This program will address these barriers and give students who are underrepresented in medical schools a strong, viable pathway towards becoming a physician."

For more information on the program, interested persons may contact Selkirk College. I hope Selkirk receives support for its proactive efforts to assist in solving the looming rural doctor shortage from all the key players - - schools, medical profession, municipal councils, parents with children possibly interested in a career in medicine -- in communities across the East and West Kootenay regions.

Your comments, as always, welcome. My email is

Full disclosure: I am not now and never have been a member of the Citizens for a Livable Cranbrook Society; however, I did conduct a workshop for its members for which I was paid.
Note from Editor:


  1. I am overwhelmed by the response already from across Canada to the Selkirk College post. Thank you. I apologize for not including contact information. It is
    For more information on the Rural Pre-Medicine Program at Selkirk College please contact David Feldman, School Chair for University Arts & Sciences at 250.365.1331 or via email

  2. Thank you for the continuing positive response to this column. It shows me at least, there is great interest in ensuring there are doctors in rural areas. Special thanks for kind words from folks at Selkirk and a note from Dr Kendra Saari a grad of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine who advised that many grads are returning to their rural home towns.For more info see link above.