President's Message - May 2017

David White, MD, CCFP, FCFP

Rural health care: Better together

As President of the College of Family Physicians of Canada (CFPC), I have had the privilege of being involved in several key projects designed to help improve the health of Canadians living in rural and remote locations.

My role has included serving as a member of Advancing Rural Family Medicine: The Canadian Collaborative Taskforce (ARFM). This joint initiative of the CFPC and the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC) has the goal of enhancing equitable access to health care and improving patient outcomes in rural and remote communities in Canada. A major milestone was the launch of the ARFM’s Rural Road Map for Action at a summit on February 22, 2017, in Ottawa. The summit was action-oriented: Educators, researchers, Indigenous leaders, government officials, and representatives from national medical and nursing organizations all gathered to discuss ways to make progress in implementing the Rural Road Map’s 20 recommended actions. Ultimately we hope to increase learning opportunities that reinforce interest in practising in these areas and support those who are already practising in these communities to ensure they can provide the best care possible regardless of where they are located.

Many of the initiatives in the Rural Road Map for Action aim to improve the health of Canada’s Indigenous peoples. In March I attended a meeting of the CFPC’s CanMEDS-FM Working Group, which devoted a substantial part of its agenda to incorporating Indigenous health into our framework of competencies for family medicine. Along with Dr. Francine Lemire, I also represented the College at the Indigenous Health Direction Setting Summit that the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada convened. These education efforts involve Indigenous partners and are designed to improve physicians’ knowledge of culturally safe practices, which actually lead to the best possible care for all patients.

In 1992 the founders of the SRPC were concerned that despite a lot of talk about a “crisis” in rural medicine, no organization spoke for physicians on the front lines of care. The joint initiatives of the SRPC and the CFPC have shown that we are “better together,” as we share a mutual interest in strengthening the skills of family physicians. Better access to care for people living in rural and remote regions of Canada will help improve health equity in our country.

David White, MD, CCFP, FCFP


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