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Selkirk College Rural Pre-med Program Can Benefit Students More Now

Bob Hall
By Bob Hall
August 15th, 2016

Selkirk College’s Rural Pre-Medicine Program has received an endorsement from the School of Medicine at the University of Calgary in an exciting development that will benefit students, who will now have enhanced opportunities to pursue their educational goals at the Alberta university’s medical school .

Rural Pre-Medicine Program (RPM) Coordinator Elizabeth Lund says this stamp of approval from the University of Calgary comes from ongoing efforts to develop a major inter-institutional collaboration.

“This is excellent news for our students and for the continued development and success of the RPM program,” she says. “It also puts a public face on what the medical schools have been communicating all along — they support us, believe in our program, and want to work together.”

Selkirk College launched its Rural Pre-Medicine Advanced Diploma and Associate Degree Program as a proactive solution to a rural doctor shortage. Offered at theCastlegar Campus, the three-year program offers students wanting to pursue careers in medicine the opportunity to acquire all of the pre-requisites and training needed to apply to medicine and other health care professions. Banking on the knowledge that students from a non-urban background are more likely to choose a career in rural medicine, the comprehensive program supports rural and Aboriginal students by offering a rigorous academic schedule and an opportunity to interact and learn from health professionals in a rural setting.

“Our program was set up as a pilot project and is the first of its kind in Canada. We hope to provide a model for other rural colleges in B.C. and Canada who want to offer a similar program,” says Lund.

Accepting its first class of 17 students in autumn of 2014, this year those students will graduate and the U of C validation comes at a perfect time. More Selkirk College students will now be eligible to apply to the University of Calgary where typically medical schools have raised eligibility criteria for out-of-province residents. 

“The announcement from U of C means that instead of needing a GPA of 3.8 out of 4.0 and an MCAT CARS score of 128 (87th percentile) before being eligible to apply, a student will be eligible to apply using the same criteria as that used for Alberta residents, a GPA of 3.2 and no minimum MCAT score,” says Lund.

Dr. Ian Walker, Director of Admissions at the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine highlights the relationship developing between the two institutions.

“We take seriously our mandate to train physicians who will meet the needs of the populations we serve,” he says. “We know that rural students are significantly under-represented [relative to the population generally] in our applicant pool, and that individuals from a rural background are more likely to work in a rural location after they graduate. We are very pleased to see what Selkirk College is doing with the RPM Program. Given that Selkirk is specifically training the demographic we are attempting to foster, it makes sense to us to do encourage those individuals to come to the U of C.”

Lund feels confident Selkirk College is ahead of the curve with its Rural Pre-Medicine Program.

“We have gained a lot of experience and momentum over the past two years,” she says. “Our vision is shared and continues to receive strong support and funding from the Doctors of BC and the Ministry of Health. We are grateful to the medical community in our Kootenay Boundary region for their work with us, as well as medical educators at the University of British Columbia and across the province. Because we are a new program and the first in Canada it’s taking some time to become known. That’s definitely starting to happen now.”

Ed.:  Last year, the Rossland Telegraph reported on the Integrated Clinical Clerkship program, which started in 2010, and the Rural Family Medicine Residency Program, which was just beginning last year, in this article

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