Rural Continuing Medical Education Community Program & Rural Programs Liaisons

The Rural Continuing Medical Education (RCME) Community Program provides funding and resources to groups of physicians, including generalists and specialists, who live and deliver care in Rural Subsidiary Agreement (RSA) communities. By addressing physicians’ collective learning needs—giving them more control over learning activities, reducing funding challenges, and improving relationships amongst health system partners—the Program improves the capacity of local healthcare systems. The provincial staffing model includes liaisons who are embedded in regional health authorities and the Rural Coordination Centre of BC to help rural communities develop local RCME models and collective learning strategies. 

Rural Programs Liaisons are also an important component of the RCME Community Program—and other rural programs. In addition to assisting with the RCME Community Program, they seek additional opportunities to support rural programs of benefit to rural doctors and other providers. Through engagement and consultation with rural physicians and medical leaders, they build relationships, increase communication, and identify opportunities for community support and planning for the vast portfolio of rural programs. Similar to the RCME Liaisons, the Rural Programs Liaisons, who are located in several locations around the province, sits in a co-reporting relationship with health authorities and the Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc), and are accountable to the health authorities and Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues. 

Our Achievements

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Onboarded nine new communities

The team successfully brought onboard an additional nine RSA communities into the program, bringing the total number of implemented communities to 94 out of the 104 that are eligible. Once implemented, communities are being supported to develop local models of RCME, accessing funding, and being supported by a team of skilled individuals to develop and execute education strategies. 

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Funded eight SPIFI projects with attendees from over 80 communities

The Specialist, Sub-Specialty, Indigenous, and Funding for Innovation (SPIFI) initiative supported eight additional projects over the last year, including Saegis SafeOR Leadership Education for the Perioperative Team at University Hospital of Northern British Columbia in Prince George, and Emergency Simulation Training sessions in the community of Clearwater. The Physician Learning Project on Psychedelics and Complementary Techniques: A Virtual Series came to an end in December 2021 after hosting seven education sessions. Topics ranged from Indigenous Ways of Healing and Ketamine: From Anesthetic to Antidepressant and Beyond. The learning sessions saw attendees from over 80 communities throughout British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Yukon, and Ontario. 

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Increased RCME community funding utilization by 61%

The RCME Community Program has had another successful year of hosting virtual and in-person CME/CPD activities, organizing and hosting multi-community education, and funding the supports and structures required to execute local RCME models. In comparison to the funding utilization in 2020-21, there has been a 61% increase in spending in 2021-22. 

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Successfully integrated Rural Programs Liaisons into all health regions

Over the last year, the Rural Programs Liaisons successfully integrated into each region with the help of their health authority managers and medical leadership. Strong linkages and relationships were built with internal health authority teams, such as Medical Staff Recruitment and Retention, and Physician Compensation. These connections have provided the staff with the opportunity to review and consider the multiple rural programs being supported in each region and determine what areas require additional assistance or expanded services. The Rural Programs Liaisons also built relationships with the rural team at the Ministry of Health, the RCCbc, and many external partners and stakeholders.

Making a Difference

Following the launch of Rural Continuing Medical Education (RCME) Community Program just two-and-a-half years ago in 2019, the team, under the leadership of Dr. Ian Schokking and Heather Gummow, has worked tirelessly to sign up rural communities across the province to collective learning opportunities—and their efforts are paying off.

Year over year, the team has increased the number of rural communities participating in the program, along with communities’ funding utilization. This year, the the RCME Community Program team increased the number of eligible communities participating in the program to 94, compared to 85 last year. It also increased spending of available RCME community funds across all health regions in British Columbia—by 97% in Interior Health, 90% in Vancouver Coastal Health, 63% in Island Health, and 26% in Northern Health.

“Our success really boils down to the promotional work of our team and the trusted relationships that we’ve built with doctors and partners in rural communities,” says Heather Gummow, Provincial Manager for the RCME Community Program. “Our staff simplifies the process for doctors to access RCME and have proved how valuable and professionally-run the courses are for rural doctors and their teams.”

In the coming year, the RCME Community Program will continue building relationships with rural doctors in an effort to bring all 104 eligible communities under its wing. To achieve this, the Program team will be focusing on demonstrating the benefits for communities to implement into the Program and offering expanded education planning for communities that may be challenged to successfully organize and execute their learning needs. An enhanced service to support in-depth education planning with communities, RCME/RCPD Community Concierge, was launched in March of 2022, in collaboration with UBC Rural Continuing Professional Development in March 2022.

“The Concierge service is led by a group of Physician Mentors,” explains Dr. Ian Schokking, physician lead for the RCME Community Program. “Our team works with eligible Rural Subsidiary Agreement communities to develop community-based learning plans and provides ongoing support to the physicians in the implementation and execution of their community learning goals.”

More information about the Concierge can be found on the RCME Community Program’s webpage.

Meanwhile, in the coming year, the Rural Programs Liaisons team, led by Dr. Alan Ruddiman and Heather Gummow, will continue to build relationships with rural physicians and communities, seek opportunities to offer enhanced support to the rural programs, and streamline internal processes.

“To ensure our team of Rural Program Liaisons shares accurate information about rural programs, they’ll continue to work closely with, and receive education and training from, the rural team at the Ministry of Health,” explains Dr. Ruddiman. “We’ll also engage with Fraser Health Authority, First Nations Health Authority, and Nisga’a Valley Health Authority to discuss their needs with respect to the Rural Programs portfolio.”

Team Members

Dr. Ian Schokking
Dr. Ian Schokking

Lead, Rural CME Community Program

Dr. Alan Ruddiman
Dr. Alan Ruddiman

Lead, Rural Programs Liaisons

Heather Gummow

Heather Gummow

Provincial Manager, RCME Community Program & Rural Programs Liaisons

Kirsten Quinlan

Kirsten Quinlan

Project Assistant

Eva Jackson

Eva Jackson

Rural CME Coordinator & Rural Programs Liaison

Nicole Hochleitner-Wain

Nicole Hochleitner-Wain

RCME Liaison

Angela Henning

Angela Henning

Rural Programs Liaison

Antoinette Picone

Antoinette Picone

RCME Liaison

Nicole Baker

Nicole Baker

Rural Programs Liaison

Shar McCrory

Shar McCrory

RCME Liaison

Jayleen Emery

Jayleen Emery

Rural CME Coordinator

Jennifer Campbell

Jennifer Campbell

Former Rural Programs’ Liaison

Danielle Richey

Danielle Richey

Former RCME Liaison

Theresa Yuha

Theresa Yuha

Former Rural Programs Liaison