I am giving up obstetrics
As rural doctors we practise a distinct form of medicine and have many challenges in common. We are
placed in difficult situations without extensive specialist back-up; we are understaffed and cope with
crippling emergency room coverage; we are underequipped and deal with patients with severe pathology;
we are underpaid and see cutbacks looming; we are undertrained and face disincentives for continuing
medical education (CME), and we are underrepresented in our professional organizations and universities.
Yet we are true generalists, who provide excellent care to the one-third of Canadians who live in rural
areas. We have chosen our careers for the challenges and pleasures that rural practice and rural living
It has been difficult to bring the interests and concerns of rural medicine to the attention of Canadian decision-makers. Provincial and national professional associations are dominated by their urban majorities. University and standard-setting bodies such as the College of Family Physicians of Canada or the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada have pursued training policies that are well suited to centralized medical models but ignore the geographic, demographic and economic facts of Canada. Provincial and federal governments have tried to help their rural constituents with a hodgepodge of rural medicine programs, but they must rely on the existing urban medical organizations for advice and have never produced a workable plan.
With all this in mind, the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada (SRPC) was formed in 1992 by a group of physicians from Mount Forest, Ontario. In just four years we have registered solid achievements, all of which would not likely have happened without our organization.
All of this and more is the result of years of behind-the-scenes hard work done by our executive members.
Unpaid and without charging expenses they have fielded calls and letters form all over the country;
handled, or been handled, by the media; written letters and briefs; coordinated conferences and conference
calls; helped various groups to communicate; fostered connections; put out newsletters; made international
contacts; formed policies and, most importantly, have given moral support and useful advice to rural
doctors across the country. This has all been done on a shoestring budget based on membership dues alone
and without the support of grants, advertising or other sources of income.
Your support will help keep the concerns of rural medicine on the front burner and will help us to improve the lives of rural doctors and the people they serve.
Keith MacLellan, MD