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MP & MLA Sold on Selkirk Program

Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy - File
Kootenay West MLA Katrine Conroy
— image credit: File

An innovative new program to help provide a solution to the chronic rural doctor shortage in Canada has recently been announced by Selkirk College in Castlegar. The Rural Pre-medicine Advanced Diploma and Associate Degree Program will have a start date of fall 2014, with an initial intake of 24 students.

“My provincial colleague, MLA Katrine Conroy, and I would like to congratulate Selkirk College on this groundbreaking program,” said Alex Atamanenko, MP for BC Southern Interior, pictured below. “It was truly a cooperative effort between the college, the UBC Faculty of Medicine, the Rural Coordination Centre of BC, Interior Health, the Columbia Basin Trust and local healthcare providers.

“We are very excited at the prospect of local training that will hopefully encourage young physicians to stay in our area and practice in our smaller and rural communities,” continued Atamanenko.

Rhonda Schmitz is the Dean of Instruction in the Selkirk College School of University Arts and Sciences. She says that since the Rural Pre-medicine website was opened on December 9, the college has received numerous inquiries from prospective students interested in learning more about the program.

“One young woman from Crawford Bay contacted us, who has wanted to be a doctor as long as she can remember,” said Schmitz.

“Her intention is to use the program to launch her medical studies, with the long-term goal of returning to Crawford Bay to practice medicine in the community.”

The three-year program will allow students to complete all of the requirements necessary for entrance to the undergraduate medical program at UBC.

“Although students can complete all of their required prerequisites at other institutions, we are offering an integrated program that, to our knowledge, is not available elsewhere in Canada,” said Elizabeth Lund, Selkirk College Chemistry instructor and the originator of the program.

Recent research has shown that a rural upbringing and a positive undergraduate and graduate experience in a smaller centre are the most important factors in determining whether a medical student will ultimately choose to practice in a rural community.

Selkirk College hopes that this program will encourage talented rural and Aboriginal students to pursue their goals by addressing economic, social and educational barriers and giving students a viable pathway toward becoming physicians.

For more information on the Rural Pre-medicine Program, please contact David Feldman, school chair for University Arts and Sciences, 250-365-1331, or check out the Selkirk College website, selkirk.ca/program/rural-pre-medicine.

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