2014 was a year of great change at RPAP.

By the end of the year, the organization was sporting a new name and look, reflecting the shifting mandate and growing importance of an organization that has supported Alberta's rural health practitioners and communities for over 20 years.

In January and February, RPAP kicked off the year with our partners, PARA, hosting resident physician recruitment receptions in Calgary, Edmonton, and Red Deer.

In late February, RPAP teamed up with another partner, NADC, to co-host the 6th Annual Rural Alberta Community Physician Attraction and Retention conference in Edmonton (highlights below):

The theme of the conference was “Changing Landscapes”, featuring presentations on the family care clinic initiative, an update on Alberta’s PCN 2.0, physician distribution, and evolving healthcare in Alberta. Communities from across rural Alberta came together to share their past experiences, successes and challenges.

The CaRMS matching results were announced in March 2014. All 30 positions available through the Alberta Rural Family Medicine Network's (ARFMN) Rural Alberta North and Rural Alberta South branches were filled.

ARFMN is a unique collaborative venture of RPAP, the Family Medicine departments of the Universities of Alberta and Calgary, and Alberta's rural physicians and Alberta Health Services offering dedicated Family Medicine residency training to prepare competent physicians for the broad demands of rural practice.

In May, RPAP announced its 2013-14 medical student bursary and award recipients. RPAP provides financial support to rural medical students and their families to off-set expenses related to student tuition, accommodation, living and/or travel.

In recognition of RPAP's shifting role in supporting the recruitment and retention of a health workforce for Alberta’s new Family Care Clinics, a new corporate identity was unveiled: Health Workforce for Alberta.

With the assistance of our partners, HiQSoft and Ignition Industries of Edmonton, RPAP's look was refreshed over the summer; and a new website and content strategy was launched to better serve our partners and tell our story.

Coinciding with the launch of a revamped RPAP eNewsletter, RPAP Review, the nomination campaign  for the 2014 RPAP Awards kicked off, back after a year hiatus. Despite a delayed launch, the campaign was successful, with RPAP receiving a total of five nominations for the Rural Community and Physician Awards of Distinction from across the province. (Recipients to be announced in 2015)

October brought another potential shift for RPAP with the launch of a comprehensive provincial government review of health care in our province’s rural communities.

A three person panel has been asked to review  existing services and facilitie, and report back to the Minister of Health about rural Alberta communities that need attention.

October also proved to be a busy month at RPAP, with the launch of APLjobs.ca (formerly Alberta Physician Link) a "one-stop" provincial recruitment web site for physicians wanting to find jobs/ practice opportunities in Alberta, Canada.

RPAP representatives also participated in Western Canadian delegations that travelled to Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States on missions to recruit physicians and connect with Canadian students who are studying medicine abroad.

Back home, RPAP made a big splash in the southern Alberta community of Bow Island, introducing medical, nursing and physiotherapy students from the cities of Calgary and Edmonton to life and practise in a rural community.

Aligning with its role as an authority on rural healthcare provision within the province of Alberta, RPAP launched two informational campaigns in November.

The first, a series of infographics entitled "Landscape of Rural Health in Alberta", attempted to illustrate that quality healthcare exists outside of Alberta's major urban centres. The second, a study entitled "Choosing the Rural Route", explained the impact of the RPAP-funded Alberta Rural Family Medicine Network (ARFMN) rural residency program on access to healthcare in rural Alberta.

Finally in 2014, a partnership with the Rural Coordination Centre of British Columbia (RCCbc) enabled rural healthcare professionals from the Three Hills area recently received a unique opportunity to hone their emergency room skills together as a team.

The course was sponsored by the Alberta Rural Physician Action Plan (RPAP) and marked the first time it has been offered in a rural Alberta community.

Stay tuned for more in 2015!

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