As part of the Province’s work to make sure British Columbians have access to high-quality primary care, 14 additional internationally trained physicians will begin practising in rural and remote communities throughout the province, including five family doctors in the Interior region.
One doctor will practise in each of these three communities: Nelson, Enderby and 100 Mile House. Two doctors will practise in Williams Lake.
The recruitment is through the Practice Ready Assessment-BC (PRA-BC) program, a partnership between the provincial government and Doctors of BC through the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues.
“The Practice Ready Assessment program strengthens health-care services in rural and remote communities throughout B.C.,” said Minister of Health, Terry Lake. “Doctors in small communities not only contribute to the health and wellness of their patients, but to the community itself.”
This is the fourth group of internationally trained family doctors to be granted licenses to practise in B.C. after going through the province’s PRA-BC program. A total of 53 family doctors are now providing care to patients in rural and underserved communities under the program.
One of the new physicians, Dr. Ghaida Radhi, who is practising in Williams Lake, called the program “a great experience – exactly what it should be. I chose Canada because it’s multicultural and it opens its arms to people with expertise.”
Dr. Radhi, who completed her 12-week assessment in Clearwater, was ready to take on the full scope of physician practice.
“It’s a small town but I was really surprised at how much you do – you do everything,” she said. “But you also have the full support of specialists. There is a lot of teamwork.”
Dr. Radhi also found that her patients were empowered team members.
“Canadian patients are very involved in their care,” she said. “They don’t just say ‘fix me’, they are part of the team.”
Dr. Radhi moved from Bahrain with her family. They are quickly settling into rural community living.
“My kids were with me when I was writing exams in Vancouver, and after one weekend visit to Williams Lake, they asked if we could stay. It’s a great community. It’s not too small or too big. It’s a great balance. It has everything you need and a lot of activity going on.”
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 practise for a minimum of three years in a designated rural community in need. These physicians have begun practising this month or are in the process of establishing their practices.
“We’re excited to welcome Dr. Radhi to our community,” said Donna Barnett, MLA for Cariboo-Chilcotin. “The Cariboo Chilcotin offers no shortage of exciting activities. It doesn’t take long to fall in love with our beautiful part of B.C.”
“Williams Lake is a great place to live and work,” said Coralee Oakes, MLA for Cariboo North. “Dr. Radhi’s expertise will benefit our residents and support other doctors and health-care professionals already practising in the area.”
“A new family doctor will be a huge boost to our community and this means families can remain closer to home to receive care,” said Greg Kyllo, MLA for Shuswap. "This is a great area to settle in and, on behalf of the community, I welcome our new doctor and family to Enderby.”
The Province is working with health-care providers, health authorities and community agencies on a comprehensive strategy to improve access to integrated primary health-care services throughout the province. The PRA-BC is one component of this strategy.
The strategy builds on the work of the 35 Divisions of Family Practice to implement innovative changes that meet the needs of their specific communities, such as recruiting new doctors and preparing for retirements, introducing team-based practices, helping general practitioners increase their capacity to accept new patients, using telehealth, and creating stronger links between family doctors and community support services.
The Practice Ready Assessment program is one of the key ways the B.C. government is taking action to strengthen and grow rural communities. To further support the needs of rural communities and grow local economies, the Province announced a Rural Economic Development Strategy on March 3, 2017.
“Internationally trained physicians continue to make a valuable contribution to the delivery of health care and patient services, particularly in rural communities,” said Dr. Alan Ruddiman, president of Doctors of BC. “The PRA-BC program helps fill the demand for skilled physicians within BC’s rural health authorities and its many under-serviced rural communities.”
To learn more about the Practice Ready Assessment-BC program, visit: http://www.prabc.ca/