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Going the distance: early results of a distributed medical education initiative for Royal College residencies in Canada

Submitted: 26 March 2012
Revised: 26 June 2012
Published: 25 October 2012

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Author(s) : Myhre DL, Hohman S.

Douglas Myhre

Citation: Myhre DL, Hohman S.  Going the distance: early results of a distributed medical education initiative for Royal College residencies in Canada. Rural and Remote Health (Internet) 2012; 12: 2151. Available: (Accessed 18 October 2017)


Background:  There is a shortage of specialty physicians practising in rural Canada: only 2.4% of Canadian specialist physicians practise rurally. Numerous strategies have been proposed and attempted that aim to increase the number of rural physicians. These include undergraduate and postgraduate distributed medical education opportunities. The Distributed Royal College Initiative at the University of Calgary is increasing the exposure of specialty residents to rural medicine through regional rotations and electives. An assessment of the initial impacts of this programme was made.
Methods:  Specialty residents were sent a voluntary survey following their regional rotation in academic year 2010–2011. The survey measured each resident’s satisfaction with the experience, interest in undertaking another rotation and the impact of the rotation on potential rural practice location. The survey asked for written comments on the rotation. Data were analysed using descriptive statistics.
Results:  A total of 73% (29) of the 40 eligible residents completed the survey that was distributed upon completion of the rotation. In the survey, 45% of respondents indicated they would have been likely to practise in a regional community prior to the experience. This changed to 76% following the rotation. Analysis of the comments revealed strong positive characteristics of the experience across all disciplines.
Conclusions:  Specialty-based, rural distributed programmes were perceived by the residents as educationally valuable and may be crucial in helping shift attitudes towards rural practice. Specific successful characteristics of the rotations provide direction to increase their quality further. These findings need to be verified in a larger sample.

Key words: Canada, career choice, internship, postgraduate medical education, residency, rural health services, rural medical recruitment, specialty residency.

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