WHEREAS Northern Alberta suffers from a shortage of medical doctors, nurses and medical technical personnel and WHEREAS medical doctors, nurses and other medical technical personnel hesitate to relocate to rural Northern Alberta to pursue their careers and WHEREAS incentive packages designed to attract doctors, nurses and other medical technical personnel to relocate to Northern Alberta have not been successful and are not a long-term solution and WHEREAS a critical situation exists with the shortage of professional personnel in Northern Alberta
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that AAMDC lobby the Provincial government and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta to institute a required internship period in rural Alberta for all medical doctor graduates.
Delivery of Health Care in the Peace Region has been affected for some time and in fact, there have been long periods of time when the people of the region have had to do without certain basic services. Being unable to recruit certain health professions has caused this. Medical and Nursing (Registered Nurses and Licensed Practical Nurses, Nurse Practitioners) staff are very difficult to recruit. An example of this is The Fairview Health Complex. This Complex serves an area of approximately 8000. There should be six family physician providing care to these residents; however, at best there are only four and oftentimes only three. This, of course, leaves the area short two to three physicians; therefore, the area residents are unable to get care in a reasonable time frame. There are long waiting lists to get an appointment with a family physician and often the residents travel elsewhere to get medical attention. The last three years there has been a minimum of four to six vacancies for nurses. This places pressure on the remaining nurses, and care cannot always be carried out in timely fashion. As well this places added pressure on the budget in having to pay out unnecessary overtime and the regular staff quickly get tired and burnt out. Other allied health professionals such as social workers, Occupational Therapists, physiotherapists, recreation therapists, and lab and x-ray technologists are also very difficult to recruit. This causes much disruption and delay in reporting results of procedures to medical staff, as well as to these services when vacancies occur.
Resolution 13-05F regarding Attracting Physicians to Rural Alberta urges the Government of Alberta to accept responsibility for all aspects of health care in the Province of Alberta, including the recruitment and retention of health care professionals in smaller centers and rural communities. It also recommends an additional 150 spots be allotted for physicians at the University of Calgary and University of Alberta. The government response was that $70 million in investment for initiatives such as the Rural Physician Action Plan to attract physicians to rural Alberta in the last provincial budget.
In April of 2009, Alberta Health and Wellness provided additional information to the AAMDC. All medical students at the University of Alberta and 75 per cent of the medical students at the University of Calgary complete a third year (clerkship) rotation in rural Alberta through the Rural Rotations program funded by the Alberta Rural Physician Action Plan. Commencing in 2007, the Government of Alberta has funded the Rural Integrated Community Clerkship program, which allows up to 24 students to complete eight consecutive months of their medical education in rural communities. In addition, there are already 30 medical residency positions in Albertas regional centers that are administered through the Rural Alberta North and residency programs. The AAMDC will continue to work with all levels of government to address the need for medical personnel in rural Alberta especially. Resolutions 11-08S, 24-06F, 23-06F, and 12-06F also address this issue.