Applications open Feb. 1 for a program providing benefits to bring new family physicians to rural Alberta.
The Rural Education Supplement and Integrated Doctor Experience (RESIDE) program will provide $2 million to 20 new family physicians in each of the next three years. The physicians will practise in 15 identified rural or remote communities of need. Further communities will be identified in subsequent years.
“RESIDE will be key in attracting new family physicians to bring Albertans in rural communities the health care they deserve,” Jason Copping, Minister of Health said. “By addressing rural physician recruitment and retention, this $6-million program is another part of our $90-million commitment this year to ensure Albertans have equitable access to physicians no matter where they live.”
Family physicians who choose to work in specific communities will be eligible for $60,000 for undergraduate tuition fee reimbursement, as well as a remote community incentive ranging from $20,000 to $40,000, depending on the community’s remoteness. In exchange, successful physicians will provide three years of service in a designated rural community.
The first group of successful RESIDE participants will start practicing in rural communities this fall.
“The RESIDE program will play a vital role in attracting physicians to Alberta’s rural and remote communities,” Dr. Gavin Parker, board chairperson, Rural Health Professions Action Plan said. “The launch of RESIDE demonstrates the Government of Alberta’s ongoing commitment toward ensuring rural Albertans have access to health care close to home.”
The Rural Health Professions Action Plan (RhPAP) will administer the $6-million RESIDE program. RhPAP is a trusted and experienced organization that, for the past 30 years, has supported the efforts of rural Albertans to maintain an accessible health workforce close to home.
Fifteen communities have been identified for the first year of the program:
- Fox Creek
- Grande Cache
- Fort Vermilion
- High Level
- Milk River
- Cold Lake
- Lac La Biche
- Rocky Mountain House
- Fort Macleod
Alberta’s government is spending about $90 million in total in 2021-22 to address rural physician recruitment and retention:
- Rural and Remote Northern Program (RRNP): $57 million
- Rural Medical Education (RME): $6 million
- Rural Integrated Community Clerkship program (RICC): $4 million
- Rural Health Professions Action Plan (RhPAP): $9 million, including $2 million for RESIDE
- Locum programs: $3 million
- Rural Physician On Call Program (POC): $12 million
The amount of the remote community incentive will depend on the level of community remoteness.
Interested new-in-practice family physicians can apply starting Feb. 1 by filling out an application form on the RhPAP website. The deadline is March 31.