Rural Health Services Research Network of BC

The Rural Health Services Research Network of BC is creating a supportive infrastructure to facilitate the investigation of issues relevant to rural health services from the perspective of the population, health services, and clinicians. Its mission is to achieve and support excellence in rural health services by, for, and with Indigenous and non-Indigenous rural communities, providers, and

researchers. The goal of the Network is to increase communication, collaboration, and capacity for better research and health outcomes for rural communities.The Network is housed within UBC’s Faculty of Medicine (Department of Family Practice) and partially funded through the Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc) 

Our Achievements

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Began building a data and information system to support health service planning

The Network began working with RCCbc to build a data and information system to enhance rural health service planning and supportive programming at the rural service population catchment level. One-hour catchment maps were created on Arc GIS for all Northern, Interior, and Island Rural Subsidiary Agreement (RSA) communities. A list of postal codes within the one-hour catchment of these communities was also acquired and validated. The Network’s team also began organizing and calculating the population sizes of Interior catchments for the last three Census years (2016, 2011, 2006), and collecting and organizing health centre and hospital data to map RSA communities on Vancouver Island. 

 The process used to create the northern catchments, demographics, and postal codes generated the Interior catchments and their related data. The team will use the same process for the Island Health RSA communities. Draft demonstrations were also created and presented to RCCbc and other stakeholders for two communities, showing the Network’s data organization and visualization approach on the Power BI dashboard.  

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Developed CCEDARR proposal on the Network’s virtual research symposium 2020 

Our project proposal for Enhancing Rural Community Resiliency to Climate Change and Ecosystem Disruption (CCEDARR) evolved from our December 2020 symposium. A working group, including youth, was formed, which identified two researchable questions from the key themes emerging from the symposium: The need to understand the characteristics of signal rural communities that have demonstrated resilience in the first year of the pandemic; and understand the strategies and innovations that enabled these communities to cope. This group developed a project proposal and submitted it to the FAFM Co-RIG II grant proposal. As a rural research incubator, it was a great success for the Network to build capacity in the foundational stages of this rural resiliency research, which is now housed within the Centre for Rural Health Research. 

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Growth of FLEX Student Program 

We have experienced great success in the attractiveness of our research training for undergraduate medical students during their Flexible Enhancement Program (FLEX). From April to June 2021, we worked with two first-year medical students who chose to stay on for their second-year FLEX project from October 2021 to May 2022. We also had three new medical FLEX students, along with two international medical students (studying in the United Kingdom and Australia) partnering with us in international partnerships. We were able to support four medical students to attend the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada conference in 2022 and present their ongoing work surrounding climate change curriculum in medical school and engaging youth and rural physicians in responding to climate change to build rural community resilience.    

 

Making a Difference

It has been a busy and impactful year for the Rural Health Services Research Network of BC—and its team looks forward to accomplishing even more in 2022 and beyond.  

On May 25 and 26, 2022, the Network will host the symposium, Resilient Transformation of Rural Communities in British Columbia, which will work with a learning community to explore and understand the resiliency and transformation of rural communities from several perspectives.  

“The event will also provide the opportunity to discuss ways to apply knowledge—and to brainstorm opportunities to generate new knowledge and extend the research,” says Jordie Fischer, the Network’s Research Network Coordinator. 

 The team also plans to continue growing its involvement with the Flexible Enhancement Program, which was invaluable to a Network-funded FLEX medical student, who said:  

“With the support of RHSNRbc FLEX funding, we made big strides forward with our qualitative project on maternity care providers’ experiences during the Covid-19 pandemic. We were able to hire transcriptionists and shift our focus as researchers to interview coding and data analysis, allowing us to prepare to present our research at the BC Rural Health Conference in May. We are very excited to bring forward our findings and key learnings to help support rural health services in BC move forward in pandemic recovery and planning for the future.”  

And beyond that, the Network will continue working with other medical students, such as Maya, who said:  

“I feel there is a lack of climate change discussion in the medical school curriculum. Climate change and ecosystem disruption affect physical and emotional health, and education surrounding this topic is crucial. At the Network, we are currently discussing how to educate more medical students on the topic of ecosystem disruption in rural communities and how to involve more students in sharing their perspectives and advocating for climate protection.”  

Team Members

Dr. Stefan Grzybowski
Dr. Stefan Grzybowski
Jordie Fischer

Jordie Fischer

Urvee Karvee

Urvee Karvee

Kyara Liu

Kyara Liu

Elyse Tang

Elyse Tang