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Keyano College wants to help train doctors in Fort McMurray

Keyano College wants to help train new physicians at its campus in Fort McMurray. 

College president Jay Notay said the idea is in preliminary stages but the college would like to work with the existing medical programs at the University of Calgary and University of Alberta to deliver training in the northern Alberta city. 

He believes training physicians in Fort McMurray will encourage them to stay when they are ready to practice. 

“We have a vision and we’re going to try to work toward that vision and see what we can do,” he said. 

In January, the Alberta government provided $1 million to the University of Calgary, University of Alberta, University of Lethbridge and Northwestern Polytechnic for a feasibility study into providing medical training in Lethbridge and Grande Prairie. 

Alberta ‘s ministries of Advanced Education and Health have received a preliminary report from the four post-secondary institutions. The province is looking at possible costs, benefits and training models. The government has no timeline for making a decision. 

Notay says Keyano is interested in possibly joining the discussions. He says the college already has space for the program. 

“My approach was hey what about Fort McMurray?” Notay said in an interview with CBC News. 

“And the intent is to do the same thing or similar up here.”

Lack of trust an issue

Three new medical schools are opening in Canada at the the University of Prince Edward Island, Toronto Metropolitan University and Simon Fraser University in B.C. 

NOSM University, based in Thunder Bay, Ontario, educates physicians, physician assistants and other health professionals with an aim at encouraging them to practice in northern Ontario.; 

Existing medical programs are increasing the number of students admitted to their programs. The Alberta government is spending nearly $20 million to add 120 new seats to the University of Alberta and University of Calgary medical schools 

Medical doctors said initiatives like these won’t solve the current crisis caused by a lack of family physicians. 

Dr. fred Rinaldi is the president of the Alberta Medical Association. She said this type of initiative will take a decade before there are any results. 

Rinaldi said physicians are leaving the province “in droves” and the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) was unable to fill 22 family medicine spots in Alberta after a second round of matching. 

“I don’t have a problem with it,” she said about efforts to move offer medical education outside Edmonton and Calgary. “I just think that it is not the hot topical issue in the crisis right now that we’re facing.”

Calgary-Varsity MLA Luanne Metz, one of the NDP’s critic for health care and medical doctor, echoed Rinaldi’s comments. 

Metz said having a campus of an existing medical program in a smaller city is worth discussing. But she said the government needs to fix the larger issues that are driving doctors away and keeping them from locating here. 

“This isn’t going to make people in the health professions trust government anymore by doing this,” Metz said. 

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