In Alberta, over 10 per cent of the rural workforce is employed in health care and social assistance, and they are making a difference in peoples’ lives.
Recognizing the importance of this group and its contributions to rural life, the final pillar of RhPAP U looks at what may be the most important topic– Rural Health Workforce. The first section in Pillar V, Health Workforce Demographics, highlights the many professional groups that make up the health workforce in Alberta and how the workforce has grown over the past years.
While health providers are still underrepresented in rural communities compared to cities, there is some good news. For example, the number of physicians in rural Alberta increased by seven per cent between 2015 and 2019. This increase is far more than the rural population grew during the same period. The trends for other health professions are similar. This means that, in 2019, there were more health-care providers per rural population than in 2015.
The second section covers the Scope of Practice of different health professions and explores the roles and functions of the different health providers. Understanding the roles of each health profession is essential to match the health workforce with community need. This section also has videos that give a glimpse of what a day in the life of a rural health professional might look like.
The needs of patients are often complex and require the collaboration of different health professionals for optimal care. The third section, Interprofessional Collaboration, looks at different aspects of collaborative care. This section explores the benefits we see when health providers work together and why this focus on teamwork has always been important in rural communities.
Last but not least, the Attraction and Retention section reveals some of the successful strategies rural communities are using to attract and retain health professionals, and the research behind those strategies. Research has shown that attraction and retention strategies need to focus on the needs of both the health professional and their family. Making the whole family feel welcome helps with their integration into the community and increases the likelihood that they will stay. Furthermore, getting potential health-care students interested early in rural practice is becoming increasingly important. Check out the ‘Let’s go Rural’ section to see how RhPAP works with rural Attraction and Retention Committees to host events for high school and university students.
By developing RhPAP U as a comprehensive information source for rural communities, RhPAP hopes to fill important information gaps on rural health issues that matter to rural Albertans. We also hope that RhPAP U supports rural Albertans to become better advocates for their communities.
RhPAP U will be updated on a regular basis. Your feedback is important to help us develop new topic areas and expand on existing ones. Tell us how we are doing and if we missed important topics. Please follow the link and send us a note!