Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health Message


The global pandemic continued transforming British Columbia’s health care system in the past year, giving rise to innovative opportunities that support health care providers and health service delivery in rural and remote communities. Virtual and in-person care continued to merge into a hybrid model, while initiatives that arose at the height of the pandemic began finding their long-term place in the health care system, and projects that had been put on hiatus re-emerged.  

The focus of my first year as UBC Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health was on three core areas: Rural research, advocacy, and support and mentoring. Thanks to the generous support of numerous partners, we advanced several crucial research initiatives, including the Drone Transfer Initiative, Virtual Health Grand Rounds, the Northern Centre for Clinical Research, Rural Emergency Health Services Innovation, Real-Time Virtual Support (RTVS), and the Rural Virtual Echocardiography Research Project. 

During a road trip to several remote communities in 2021, I had the privilege of meeting with rural providers to learn more about the challenges they and their communities face, along with suggested solutions. Although every rural community is unique, many commonalities were identified, including the need for in-person community visits to contextualize and augment virtual support and ongoing staffing challenges. I also appreciated the opportunity to advocate for rural educational opportunities for medical providers, and to promote and enhance the expansion of RTVS.  

Credit: Kevin Wallace, Wallace Studios

Meanwhile, the Rural Education Action Plan continued delivering on its mission to attract rural physicians across British Columbia through educationally-based strategies. And, as Chair, I had the pleasure of providing mentorship to post-doctoral scholars through the Virtual Echocardiography Research Project and support to the Rural Scholars Program.

Undoubtedly, the rural health landscape will continue to rapidly evolve in the coming year. To leverage the opportunities that this window of opportunity presents, we must continue to listen to the complex challenges identified by rural doctors and patients, work collaboratively with partners to develop and implement solutions to these challenges, research innovations to improve rural health care delivery, and enhance rural educational opportunities.  

I hope you will join me in the pursuit of these endeavours in the coming year.  

Dr. John Pawlovich

Dr. John Pawlovich

Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health