The following article appears in the Summer 2017 edition of Alberta Rural Helath Quarterly. To download your copy, click here.
By Dr. Bert Reitsma
Knowing your neighbours. Communing with nature. Being part of a community. When you live in the country, you focus on what matters.
For rural Albertans, good health also matters. While country living is synonymous with healthy living, a strong back and an independent spirit will only get you so far. Without fair and equitable access to quality health care when it’s required, maintaining good health in the country can be a challenge.
That’s why there’s RPAP.
Moving forward, I plan for a renewed RPAP, empowered to speak to issues and solutions that will ensure fair and equitable access to healthcare for rural Albertans. To achieve this, RPAP will be seeking from key stakeholders in health and government the opportunity to provide a rural voice promoting equal access to support services. While I am deeply appreciative that RPAP is part of the Ministry of Health’s physician resource planning committee, I would also like to see RPAP be a rural voice on other health care issues affecting rural Alberta.
We will continue to advise government and rural communities that training and distribution of general practitioners, nurses, nurse practitioners, occupational therapists, and other health care disciplines needs to be front and centre of policy and health care delivery discussions.
As a practising physician in rural Alberta, I wouldn’t trade my life in the shadow of the Rockies for all of the luxuries the big city has to offer. However, healthy rural communities aren’t a luxury. They are essential for the well-being of our province.
Rural is different. That’s why there’s RPAP.
Dr. Bert Reitsma is a practising physician and general surgeon from Blairmore, Alberta. As a representative of AMA Section of Rural Medicine, Dr. Reitsma also serves as chairperson of the Alberta Rural Physician Action Plan (RPAP) Board of Directors.