It has been a privilege to hold the Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health until June 2020, when I completed my term. I wish to thank the Rural Coordination Centre of BC and the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues for their tremendous support during my time as Chair. Together, we focused on capacity building, developing research opportunities for rural physicians, partnering with others to advocate for improvements in rural healthcare, and developing knowledge to support those advocacy efforts. We established the Rural Scholars’ Program, the Rural Physician Research Support Program, and found ways to help develop evidence to support our advocacy efforts.
Being Chair allowed me to contribute at a national level with the Rural Road Map Implementation Committee, formed by the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada—work that continues with the Canadian Medical Federation Recruitment and Retention Committee. I also engaged with a number of provincial and national research projects that focus on health systems change in rural areas, and recruitment and retention of physicians in the context of generational change. These projects will not be finished for some years yet, and I continue to work on them.
The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated opportunities for change in rural areas, and I am delighted that the Chair will continue under the leadership of Dr. John Pawlovich. His passion and expertise on developing and delivering virtual care to some of our most vulnerable communities will stimulate innovative ways to enhance patient access to longitudinal relationship–based primary care in post-pandemic times.
There are exciting times ahead for rural healthcare.
Dr. Dave Snadden
Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health (Outgoing)
I am honoured to serve as the next Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health. Citizens in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities in British Columbia (BC) have long experienced greater healthcare disparities than their urban counterparts. Indigenous communities, in particular, have historically endured a shameful inequity of healthcare resources. This role provides a unique opportunity to lead provincial efforts in bridging these persistent rural healthcare gaps.
As Chair, I will endeavour to carry on Dr. Snadden’s impressive work in advancing rural health education and research. His leadership over the past five years has significantly advanced many aspects of rural health. Rural British Columbia will benefit from his legacy of cultivated relationships, exceptional research, and respectful advocacy well into the future.
To build on this work—to further expand equitable healthcare access to all parts of our province—I will continue building relationships with academic institutions, governments, rural healthcare providers, and communities. Together, we will leverage advancements in virtual connectivity and healthcare technologies to bring team-based care closer to home for rural British Columbians, and to support healthcare practitioners in remote locations. At the same time, we will advance educational initiatives, such as Extended Rural Experiences, Transition to Practice, and the Rural Education Action Plan, to ensure medical residents receive fit-for-purpose, rural-ready training. We will expand the University of British Columbia’s model of distributed learning so that it is even more focused on community-based learning in remote regions of BC.
This agenda is, indeed, ambitious. Rural health has always been defined by the unwavering commitment of healthcare providers to their respective communities and regions. By working together and pursuing these goals unrelentingly, I am certain that we will make great strides toward more equitable healthcare access for all British Columbians, and supportive work environments for our rural, remote, and Indigenous healthcare practitioners.
Dr. John Pawlovich
Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health (Incoming)