Rural Emergency Medicine Needs Assessment

Please click on the following links to access the Rural Emergency Medicine Needs Assessment Report and Executive Summary and Recommendations.

Rural Emergency Medicine Needs Assessment

The Rural Emergency Medicine (EM) Needs Assessment research study was conducted through the Rural CPD Program of UBC CPD. The study investigated the needs of rural Emergency Medicine (EM) providers in British Columbia and determined the system, workplace, and educational factors that impact recruitment, retention, comfort, and confidence of rural EM physicians.


The research subjects for this study included a wide range of individuals and stakeholder groups including rural physicians who work primarily in an emergency room setting, specialists practicing in rural areas and providing EM care, residents training in rural areas, healthcare providers from remote communities, etc. This study involved a recruitment survey as well as focus groups and key informant interviews.


The information collected in this detailed Rural EM Needs Assessment (access to the full report can be found below) identified many factors that influence rural practitioners rational for practicing emergency medicine in a rural setting.  The impacts of this study have the potential to contribute to the development of rural EM support systems. This may include web-based information resources for the rural ER, formalized systems for telephone advice from more experienced colleagues, Telehealth in the rural ER in real time, or mentoring for rural EM providers, as well as other exciting and innovative educational initiatives. We anticipate the results of the study will contribute to the development of programs that will lead to increased recruitment and retention of GPs and specialists in RSA communities, and provide a platform for increasing the confidence and competence of new and existing rural emergency practitioners.


A key finding of this study centers around the importance of establishing and supporting healthy relationships between local physicians and local health care teams. This study also revealed a wide variety of factors that pull or push physicians towards or away from rural practice, and the rural EM practice in particular.
Factors that drew physicians in our focus group to rural practice and/or rural EM practice include:
  • Positive experiences in rural BC during childhood or medical training
  • Attraction to the rural lifestyle
  • Having a personality that is drawn to the uncertainty and challenges associated with EM
  • Working in a supportive health care team with a strong sense of community and collegiality

Factors that push physicians away from EM practice and make rural practice challenging include:

  • Lack of adequate support from the system and colleagues
  • Negative experiences with colleagues or in clinical settings
  • Insufficient exposure to rural practice and EM during training
  • Lifestyle demands that compete with the demands of practice
  • Demands of office practice conflicting with EM practice

Please contact Dilys Leung ( if you would like any more information.

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