Rural Health Week

May 28, 2021

Dr. Paul Boucher, AMA President

Dear Members:
As we come to the end of the 2021 Alberta Rural Health Week, I wanted to take the opportunity to add my voice to the celebration of rural health care in this province.
As an urban physician and Albertan, I am indebted to the stellar health care teams who are part of the lifeblood and infrastructure of rural communities in our province. As President of the Alberta Medical Association, I am proud of the expertise and humanity of our rural physician colleagues. I grew up in a rural setting where my father was a family physician, and I know full well the challenges and sacrifices a rural practice has on physicians and their families. I also know that a rural practice can be one of the most rewarding.
The contributions of rural physicians were nicely summarized in a 2019 statement from the AMA and the Section of Rural Medicine:
“Rural medicine is uniquely challenging. Fewer than 500 physicians serve a population of around one million Albertans — that’s about the population of Edmonton. They provide primary care, preventive medicine, emergency medicine, in-patient care, long-term care, maternity and more 24/7/365. It’s not a life for every physician, but it’s part of the everyday life of rural Albertans.”
While all groups within the profession have been impacted by COVID-19, the instability of the past 18 months has meant that rural medicine has been particularly affected. We know that practices are struggling and that some communities have lost physicians and are having difficulties replacing them. Current discussions with government include seeking ways to ensure the sustainability of community practices, and this is particularly important in rural settings where so much is riding on access to physician care. A joint Rural Sustainability Taskforce has been established and we hope it will help point the way toward solutions and strategies.
There are many ways to support our rural colleagues and the teams of local community nurses, pharmacists, emergency responders and others upon whom they rely. Today I propose that as a profession, we simply extend deep gratitude and the strongest appreciation for all that they do.
Your comments are welcome in the following ways:

  • Communicate with me privately and directly by email if you would like a reply: 
  • Comment publicly on this President’s Letter on the AMA website (please be aware that comments are public, i.e., not members-only, even if you are logged in as a member).

Paul E. Boucher, MD, FRCPC
President, Alberta Medical Association

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Alberta Medical Association Mission: Advocate for and support Alberta physicians. Strengthen their leadership in the provision of sustainable quality care.