MIRAMICHI (GNB) – Atlantic Canada's first rural, community-based medical education program was announced today at the Miramichi Regional Hospital.

"Medical education programs are one of the most important ways that we can attack the challenges facing our health-care system, including access to primary health care and the recruitment and retention of family doctors," said Public Safety Minister Robert Trevors. "The medical education sites inside our hospitals provide New Brunswickers with the opportunity to continue their medical studies and participate in internships in their home province. This will ensure our future doctors will have a deep understanding of the specific needs of our communities and make it more likely that they will want to establish their practices here."

Trevors was speaking on behalf of Health Minister Madeleine Dubé.

The Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick's Education Program is being offered at the hospital through a partnership between the provincial government, Horizon Health Network, the University of New Brunswick and the faculty of medicine at Dalhousie University. The program will be under the leadership of family physician Dr. Robert Boulay, who will work with Dr. Bill Martin, medical education director for the hospital.

"Congratulations are extended to Dr. Martin, Dr. Boulay and their team at the Miramichi Regional Hospital for their leadership in the development and implementation of this important and innovative medical education program," said Donald J. Peters, president and chief executive officer, Horizon Health Network. "Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick is an important component of the hospital's medical education program, which will result in enhanced patient care as well as help us retain and recruit physicians to our province."

Termed a Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship, the pilot program enables medical students to spend the entire third year of their four-year program at the Miramichi Regional Hospital. The program provides an opportunity for medical students to follow their patients during an extended period, allowing them to learn more about their patients’ health issues. Traditionally, medical students have short term rotations. Dalhousie University hopes to expand the program into other areas of the Maritimes in the near future, providing medical students with greater exposure to non-urban sites and improving physician recruitment in rural communities.

"The opening of these Miramichi facilities is another step forward in ensuring Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick is truly a provincially distributed program," said Dr. John Steeves, associate dean of the program. "Well-designed clinical teaching sites are critical elements in providing educational opportunities for our medical students and practicing physicians. These facilities will help recruit and retain doctors to the Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick program and to the province. The technology will also be used to advance academic activity, such as research, among our Dalhousie University teaching sites across the Maritimes."

The new site includes six rooms, two of which are equipped with award-winning high-definition video conference equipment that will enable students to participate interactively in classes conducted in other teaching centres across the Maritimes.

The hospital is one of four Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick education sites, along with Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John, within Horizon Health Network. The sites will begin to accept students this fall. The program will admit 30 students from New Brunswick each year.

The main administrative is located on the Saint John campus of the University of New Brunswick.

As Dalhousie Medicine New Brunswick clerkship director at the hospital, Boulay will be responsible for implementing and delivering the curriculum and for ensuring the infrastructure, resources and educational requirements for the delivery of the program are in place.

Boulay, born in Bathurst, earned his medical degree from Dalhousie University in 1989. After completing a rotating internship at Dalhousie University, Boulay set up a practice in Miramichi.

He is involved in local, provincial and national health-care committees, and he has served as the president of the Family Physicians Association of Canada and president of the New Brunswick College of Family Physicians.

In 2004, Dalhousie named him undergraduate preceptor of the year for New Brunswick, recognizing his involvement in teaching medical students and residents. In 2006, he was named Family Physician of the Year in New Brunswick.


●    Horizon Health Network: www.HorizonNB.ca