Courtesy of the BC Government:
The Practice Ready Assessment program assesses internationally trained physicians for practice in B.C. As part of the program, doctors undergo a rigorous assessment process, spending three months with a B.C. physician who evaluates their skills as they care for patients. Physicians successfully completing the program commit to practice for at least three years in a designated rural community in need.
The program is funded for a total of $7.6 million through March 2018 by the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues – a collaborative committee of the Ministry of Health and Doctors of BC.
Facts about the Practice Ready Assessment-BC (PRA-BC) program:
* The first group of 14 doctors assessed through PRA-BC started in their new communities in July 2015: McBride, Hazelton, Quesnel, Dawson Creek, Fort St. John (two), Terrace, Castlegar, Lillooet (two), Invermere, Port Hardy, Comox, and Powell River.
* In January 2016, 11 international medical graduates were assessed as practice ready and placed in communities of need: Chetwynd, Quesnel (two), Houston, Fort Nelson, Prince Rupert, Campbell River, Princeton, Logan Lake, and Ashcroft (two).
* In July 2016 the third cohort (Spring 2016) saw 13 international medical graduates successfully pass their assessments and move on to provisional licensure with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC. They will start their three-year return of service in August/September 2016 in the following communities: Quesnel (three), Chetwynd, Dawson Creek, Tumbler Ridge, Enderby, Keremeos, Nakusp, Logan Lake, Trail, Ladysmith and Port Hardy.
* Another 15 international medical graduates will be assessed in the fall of 2016. Two additional cohorts of up to 15 internationally trained physicians each will be assessed in the spring and fall of 2017 – for a total of up to 30 practice-ready family physicians in 2017.
* Internationally trained physicians who successfully complete the assessment program can set up practice in one of the designated communities in need.
Facts about rural recruitment:
* In the 2015-16 Budget Year, Government spent over $100 million on incentives to recruit and retain physicians in B.C.’s rural communities.
* As part of this work, government in partnership with Doctors of BC has invested in rural programs such as the rural emergency enhancement fund, rural general practitioner locum program and the rural specialist locum program.
* Recruitment efforts in rural communities are significantly outpacing population growth. In 2014-15, there were 2,441 doctors practising in rural areas in B.C., compared to 2,260 in 2010-11 – an increase of about 8%. During the same period, population in rural British Columbia has grown by 2.1%.
By the Numbers:
* According to the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC, as of February 2016, there were 6,042 family doctors registered to practice in B.C., an increase of 9% over the previous five years (5,448 general practitioners as of December 2009).
* According to the latest figures available from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, as of 2014 there were 125 family doctors per 100,000 people in B.C. – compared to the national average of 114.
* The provincial government has more than doubled the number of first-year undergraduate medical school spaces in B.C., from 128 to 288 between 2003 and 2011. The number of entry-level postgraduate residency positions increased from 134 in 2003 to 346 positions in 2016, almost half in family medicine. More than 500 additional family physicians have graduated from UBC as a result of the medical school expansion.
* Statistics from the Canadian Community Health Survey show that in 2014, 85.1% of British Columbians now have a regular physician, up slightly from 84.5% from 2013.
* In the latest agreement with the Doctors of BC, the Province committed $67 million in new funding toward ongoing support of the work of A GP for Me and other primary-care focused programs. More than 100,000 previously unattached patients with complex-care needs are now matched with a family doctor or belong to a primary-care clinic, thanks to this work. A further 60,000 were matched with a new doctor when their family doctor retired or moved.
* Nurse practitioners were introduced as an important part of health-care teams in B.C. in 2005, helping meet the growing need for primary and community health care. Since B.C.’s first group of nurse practitioners graduated in 2005, 397 nurse practitioners have been licensed to practise in the province.