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A network of healing

From nurse practitioner training in Outaouais to family medicine units in Abitibi-Témiscamingue and Montérégie, McGill’s Faculty of Medicine and its partners are working hard to address the shortage of health professionals in Quebec.

The urgent need for family physicians is at the core of several initiatives that are already yielding successes. For example, twice as many McGill students are now opting for family medicine when they choose their residency, compared to 2002. McGill students are exposed to the practice of family medicine from the beginning of their studies, and must devote eight weeks of their third-year clerkship to family medicine, including four weeks outside of Montreal.

“We believe that if our students do a family medicine internship in the regions and have a positive experience, they will be more likely to set up practice there once their studies are completed,” says Dr. Samuel Benaroya, Associate Dean, Inter-Hospital Affairs at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine.

The results of this policy speak for themselves – since the McGill’s partnership with Gatineau’s Family Medicine Unit began in 1988, 100 family physicians have been trained there and 81 still practice in the region.

In 2010, McGill introduced a new feature in the medical curriculum which allows an even greater focus on the Outaouais region’s needs: the Integrated Clerkship, in which predoctoral third-year students spend one full year in the community. The program – which combines teaching and clinical experience – is the most recent initiative of the Campus santé Outaouais, which brings together partners from the education, health and social services community.

“I think that working at a single family medicine clinic regularly over the course of an entire year will give me a better opportunity to follow up regularly with patients,” says Brian Lee, one of the clerkship’s first nine participants. “I also look forward to seeing how medicine is practiced outside of a large university centre.”

Another success of the Campus santé Outaouais has been the introduction, by McGill and the Université du Québec en Outaouais, of a nurse practitioner training program aimed at increasing public access to primary care services.

These are but a few examples of McGill’s work to improve health care access across Quebec – the Réseau universitaire de santé McGill, which includes the Faculty of Medicine and McGill’s affiliated hospitals, allows McGill to reach 1.7 million people across 63 per cent of Quebec’s territory, through the coordination of specialized services, teaching and research in Central and Western Montreal, western Montérégie, Outaouais, Abitibi-Témiscamingue, Nord-du-Québec, Nunavik and Terres-Cries-de-la-Baie-James.

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