Executive summary

Dr. Ray Markham, Executive Director, RCCbc

It has been a humbling experience over the last few weeks reading our various reports as they have rolled in from the excellent teams doing the work of the RCCbc. During this time I have been reflecting about what we have been up to and the overarching theme that resonates with me is “setting up for success.” As we continue on the journey of improving the health of rural patients and communities with our partners – who are essential to our success – to me this year has been about setting our rural docs and their communities up for success.

Setting our rural providers up for success

This has been reflected continually in our ongoing educational offerings like The CARE Course helping rural teams improve their emergency, communication and teamwork skills, and in the education delivered in community through UBC Rural CPD with programs like the HOUSE course. These programs help our rural health teams continue to improve the quality of healthcare that they deliver. Our BC Rural Health Conference in Nanaimo this year was a great success, it looks like we will be heading back there next year.

It has been great to see the roll out and customisation of the clinical coaching and mentoring programs to meet rural provider needs, to my mind a singular measure of success when rural providers take something we have created together and make it their own.

The Rural Site Visits are providing an awesome opportunity for us to build stronger connections with those providers at the coal face of rural healthcare. This is also improving our links from community through to the provincial level and will continue to grow as a means by which our clinicians’ voices can be clearly heard.

Setting up for success was really brought into focus when we started our work on supporting PRA-BC candidates as they enter rural practice. Our colleagues who have come through the PRA-BC program have the shortest flash-to-bang time from deciding to work in rural BC to being there, so we need to work with them on best preparing them for this challenging work and supporting them in it. It has quickly become apparent to everyone that to a greater or lesser extent, the supports we could put in place for these physicians would be welcome and beneficial to everyone. How do we further enhance the offerings to docs and teams in rural BC so they are even more oriented to set them up for success? Watch this space…

Our patients and communities shaping success

We continue to work on supporting equity in healthcare, setting some of our more vulnerable patient groups up for more successful outcomes be it through learning and understanding each other’s context, to supporting more resilient physicians and healthcare teams to improving access through virtually enabled care.

We have been stepping into new territory as our work on the Rural Surgical and Obstetric Networks starts taking shape. This is all about helping care to be delivered closer to home, for our moms having babies to those requiring emergency and surgical care. In an environment that has seen the decline of these rural services, we are working on setting those remaining surgical sites up to being sustainable and thriving entities.

We have been working on developing our relationship with our rural communities and it has been great to connect with groups like the BC Rural Health Network and in our own small way help them on their road as they have helped us.

Success with our team and partners

It is a privilege to work with this amazing team at the RCCbc, our staff again and again go the extra mile for our docs and communities. As we have grown over the last year it has been great to see them succeed again and again and grow into their new and expanded roles. I am so proud to be a part of this team – without wanting to sound hokey they really feel like a family to me. We have worked hard with our physician leaders in mapping out their work and making sure they are well supported and resourced to do their important work.

The journey of improving the health of rural patients and communities is only possible with trusted travel companions. These would be our partners in this work and include the rural health care providers, Ministry, Health Authorities, Citizens, Academia and Other Contributors like non-profits and consultants. It has been good to have the opportunity to connect and try to help set each other up for success. This has looked like everything from the seemingly mundane of making sure we are communicating well with the Ministry when it comes to our financial reporting, to the opportunity to put our shoulder to the plow of setting the rural primary care networks up to build on and enhance the great work already going on in these communities. It has been great to see the progress on developing connections and relationships through a regional presence in a collaborative environment with the Health authorities.

We continue to wrestle with meaningful consultation with patients and citizens, widening the circle and inviting into the conversation at community regional and provincial levels, I suspect this will continue to be a growth area for us at the RCCbc. I was privileged to literally go on a journey with Dean Kelleher accompanying Dr. John Pawlovich for part of one of his trips serving the First Nations communities (see tweet below). This was a great practical experience for me shining a light on our need to keep our social mandate front and centre. This work on a rural voice helping shape the social mandate of the university continues to be welcomed through the Dean’s Advisory Council on Rural Health.

I am excited to see what the new year brings as we move forward on these many fronts. I am really grateful for the opportunity to work with all of you, thanks for everything that you do to make the RCCbc what it is.

Ray Markham OBC, MB.Ch.B, MRCGP, LMCC, FCFP
Executive Director, Rural Coordination Centre of BC