As we enter 2015 and another year of turbulence at home in Alberta and throughout the world, it is important to remind ourselves of the reasons an integrated, comprehensive agency like RPAP | Health Workforce for Alberta was created by Alberta Health upon the advice of physicians and policymakers back in 1989-1990.
The "founders" knew that a single comprehensive series of initiatives not only would be more efficient and effective; but also that new ideas could be "brought to market" more quickly, assessed and either kept or retired. Being a community-connected organization, RPAP has a single outcome as its mandate: the right number of physicians, in the right locations, with the right skills. It is not conflicted like other larger organizations that have multiple objectives and interests. RPAP exists to serve the health-care needs of non-metro Albertans who know that access to appropriate health care meets not only a basic social need, but also is an important economic driver as well.
The "Proposed Action Plan for Addressing Rural Physician Recruitment and Retention Issues," which outlined the initiatives that formed RPAP, and that best influence where physicians (and other health care practitioners) will practice and for how long, is as relevant today as it was when first researched and developed in 1990. With refinements and adaptations, the action plan continues to drive Health Workforce for Alberta towards achieving its vision and mission.
As a "small fish in a large pool," Health Workforce for Alberta recognizes that to succeed in meeting its purpose, it must continue to be innovative, accountable and relevant. We believe we are and will continue to seek out partners for collaboration, introduce new initiatives to get us closer to achieving our goals, and demonstrate value and success.
As we enter 2015, we offer our thanks to our supportive sponsors: the Alberta Medical Association, Alberta Health Services and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta. In particular, we thank Alberta Health for its steadfast support of the RPAP vision and mission and for its funding to enable the RPAP. We also thank the many physicians, rural communities and their community attraction and retention committees, medical students, resident physicians, civic leaders, university leaders and others for their support. Going forward, we aim to continue to offer innovative programs and initiatives for the benefit of Albertans. Health Workforce for Alberta is also well positioned to leverage its efforts to support the education, recruitment and retention of other health disciplines which are also in need.
Working together we can “connect the dots” towards a future state that offers “predictable, reliable and sustainable access to health care services” (and that doesn’t always mean access to physician services); rather than continue a disjointed series of activities that are not aligned to achieve that goal.
David Kay is the Executive Director for RPAP | Health Workforce for Alberta