Earlier in December 2015, RPAP completed an external summative evaluation of its functioning by outside, independent researchers. This report, part of the RPAP multi‐part evaluation framework, was very positive. Quoting from the report, the external evaluators noted:
- “RPAP is making a valuable contribution to the attraction and retention of physicians in rural Alberta. RPAP has a clear vision and mission which are underpinned by a number of objectives and goals. The initiatives within each goal align with both the direction of the goal and with each other. “
- “Physicians, residents and medical students all reported that RPAP was a positive driver within the rural Alberta health care environment. All three user groups stated that RPAP initiatives provided them with insights into rural practice and rural community living that might otherwise be unknown to them. Medical students felt that they were exposed to the advantages of rural practice through RPAP initiatives, and that the initiatives informed their career choices. Furthermore, medical students and residents reported that RPAP initiatives influences their decision to pursue rural practice. The seven‐year retention rate of rural physicians has increased, year on year, as has the number (headcount) of physicians practicing in rural Alberta.”
- “RPAP initiatives are currently seen as the vanguard of Canadian rural physician recruitment and retention practices, and are aligned with most best practices.”
In light of the economic uncertainty the nation and Alberta are currently facing, it is important to remember what an effective and inexpensive operation RPAP is. We are a not-for-profit organization who receives financial assistance from Alberta Health that amounts to under 2.5 hours of what Alberta spends on health care in a year, over $19.5 billion.
For around $10 million per year, we:
- Support and sponsor rural kids to go to medical school
- Facilitate and fund the rural placements of medical students and Family Medicine residents so that they might select rural practice as a viable option upon graduation
- Attract and path find Canadian and internationally trained physicians, and Alberta-trained resident physicians to available posts in Alberta
- Support the recruitment of all health care providers through our cutting edge provincial recruitment jobsite APLJobs.ca
- Work with rural communities through attraction and retention committees to attract and retain physicians and their families
- Work with resident physicians in career planning
- Provide professional development programs and locum services for rural physicians
- Invest in research and analysis to tell the story about rural health care and Alberta’s physician workforce
- Provide grants to local communities for attraction and retention innovations, and fund medical students and resident physicians to attend rural health care conferences and training events
- Work collaboratively within Alberta, across Western Canada, and nationally to support health care in Alberta
- Measure what we do and continuously improve our programmes and supports
- LISTEN to rural communities, health care workers, and service partners and ACT on their ideas
So going into the uncertain future we will continue our single purpose of serving Albertans by identifying new opportunities for RPAP to implement that meet needs not being met, and enhance initiatives in place that can be revised to continue to bring greater value to Albertans.
We are honoured to deliver programs and services that are needed, and to do so efficiency and effectively.
David Kay is the Executive Director for RPAP | Health Workforce for Alberta.