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Those who are falling in line to support the idea of a UPEI medical faculty seem to be missing the point of 21st century health care. The idea that we can facilitate the graduation of more and more medical practitioners until we reach the point where every Islander is blessed with a family doctor is unrealistic. In fact, the percentage of doctors ready to retire is as high in other jurisdictions as it is in P.E.I., so chances are very good that UPEI grads would move elsewhere to make more money. Nor can they be compelled to stay home to practice.
Instead, government must take a more holistic approach to health care that encompasses many health-care professionals in community hubs, where the doctor can play the leading clinical role, but is not the only player. We know (or should know) the value of nurse practitioners in effective health delivery models, but community health-care hubs could also include speech language pathologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, psychologists, nutritionists, pharmacists - the possibilities are wide-ranging, and allow service delivery under one roof.
The community hub model isn’t a new idea, but it requires an acknowledgement of the value of all health-care professionals. It also requires fewer doctors in order to be successful. Rural communities could be well served by the hub system, eliminating the necessity for community members to wait in line for a family doctor. Wellness requires a host of highly-trained specialists; let’s drop the notion that more medical schools will service all of our future health-care needs.