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The beautiful Kwasitchewan Falls, Manitoba's highest waterfall, is located just outside Thompson, MB.

Thompson to host new UM family medicine training program in northern Manitoba

February 28, 2020 — 

A new University of Manitoba family medicine residency program in Thompson will allow medical residents to experience northern and remote health-care service delivery and encourage physician recruitment and retention to underserved areas across the large and diverse region, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen announced Feb. 25.

“Providing a program that lets physicians experience life in the north and how people in the region access health care is an excellent way to prepare them for a career in northern medicine,” said Friesen. “Following the success of similar programs in the other health regions, this new partnership between the University of Manitoba and the Northern Regional Health Authority will support stronger recruitment and retention efforts across northern Manitoba.”

Upon graduation from medical school, graduates take residency training as family physicians or in a specialty. The two-year family medicine residency program in the Max Rady College of Medicine, Rady Faculty of Health Science at the University of Manitoba, includes training in a number of practice areas, such as primary care, psychiatry, obstetrics, general surgery, internal medicine, emergency department care, pediatrics and seniors care. This training allows family physicians to meet the varied health-care needs of Manitobans in communities across the province.

The minister noted similar residency programs have proven successful in recruitment and retention of physicians in other regions such as Prairie Mountain Health and Southern Health-Santé Sud. Most recently, Selkirk became a site for family medicine residency training in the Interlake-Eastern health region in 2019.

“We’re excited to be expanding into the northern health region with residents living and working in Thompson,” said Dr. José François, medical director of Shared Health’s family medicine program, and head of the Department of Family Medicine at the Max Rady College of Medicine. “This new site offers residents an opportunity to absorb the rewards of a northern practice and setting while meeting the diverse needs of the communities in and around Thompson.”

While the program is based out of Thompson, trainees will complete core training rotations across the region, preparing residents to provide care across diverse environments including community hospitals, health centres, nursing stations and care homes in First Nation, rural and remote communities.

Addressing the unique health needs and inequities of Indigenous populations in the region is a core skill for family physicians working in the north. The 2016 census data shows that 71 per cent of the people living in the northern health region self-identify as Indigenous.

UM has redistributed two of its seats from the family medicine northern and remote stream residency program basing it in Thompson. Medical residents will be selected for these training opportunities through the Canadian Resident Matching Service (CaRMS) for positions beginning in July 2020.
“This continues our commitment to distributed medical education that we have fostered in the Max Rady College of Medicine over the last number of years to meet the needs of northern, remote and rural communities,” said Dr. Brian Postl, dean, Max Rady College of Medicine and dean, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences at the announcement in Thompson. “Rural training and exposure to rural clinical teachers has been shown to positively influence recruitment and retention of family physicians to rural and remote locations. By training family physicians locally, the physicians are equipped with skills to effectively meet the varied needs of the community they serve.”

The residency program provides an excellent opportunity for trainees to gain effective cultural safety proficiency, become involved in advocacy and self-reflection by learning alongside preceptors, education partners, knowledge keepers, local leaders and the patients of the Northern Regional Health Authority.

“We believe this program will help physicians better understand the opportunities they can find while practising in northern Manitoba,” said Helga Bryant, chief executive officer Northern Regional Health Authority. “Our medical teams are very excited to provide training opportunities for new physicians, while enhancing access to care for northern residents.”

For more information on the family medicine residency program at the University of Manitoba, visit:

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