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Rural Continuing Medical Education Community Program & Rural Programs Liaisons

The Rural Continuing Medical Education (RCME) Community Program provides funding and resources to groups of physicians, including generalists and specialists, who live and deliver care in Rural Subsidiary Agreement (RSA) communities. By addressing physicians’ collective learning needs — giving them more control over learning activities, reducing funding challenges, and improving relationships amongst health system partners — the Program improves the capacity of local healthcare systems. The provincial staffing model includes liaisons who are embedded in regional health authorities and the Rural Coordination Centre of BC to help rural communities develop local RCME models and collective learning strategies.


Rural Programs Liaisons are also an important component of the RCME Community Program — and other rural programs. In addition to assisting with the RCME Community Program, they seek additional opportunities to support rural programs of benefit to rural doctors and other providers. Through engagement and consultation with rural physicians and medical leaders, they build relationships, increase communication, and identify opportunities for community support and planning for the vast portfolio of rural programs. Similar to the RCME Liaisons, the Rural Programs Liaisons, who are located in several locations around the province, sits in a co-reporting relationship with health authorities and the Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc), and are accountable to the health authorities and Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues.

“RCME funding was essential for Fernie to bring the Rural Trauma Team Development Course to the Elk Valley. It was a fantastic opportunity to bring regional expertise to our rural site, to develop our communication and team skills, and foster connections that will help our communities effect systemic changes.”
Dr. Benjamin Tan (Fernie)


Strengthening planning for travel assistance

Throughout the calendar year the Rural Programs Liaison positions have continued to expand their portfolios within the respective health authority teams. A major focus of this year has been the shift in the timeline for the administration and planning of the Northern Isolation and Travel Assistance Outreach Program (NITAOP). The Rural Program Liaison team has successfully navigated this change and had all the fiscal 2024-25 plans for NITAOP ready for review by the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues (JSC) in advance of their November 2023 meeting.   

This change in timeline has enabled our team to communicate the approved visits to travelling physicians well in advance of the new fiscal year. The Liaison team will continue to seek opportunities within the NITAOP program for additional coordination and attention at the planning and administrative level within the health authorities.  

Final community joins program

Since the inception of the RCME Community Fund Program, the team has worked to support rural communities across the province to capitalize on collective learning opportunities. During the 2023 calendar year, the final community of Kitimat was integrated into the RCME Community Fund Program. This marks the 103rd and last remaining RSA community, with a local physician, to join the program since we launched in August 2019. This achievement is the result of strong relationship-building efforts by program staff, taking on a customer service-based approach, as well as the efforts that RSA communities and leaders have made to develop structures and systems to execute local CME.   

With the final community implemented, the RCME team continues to support communities to strengthen and increase capacity of local RCME models and build and maintain relationships with rural health care providers and partners to address the needs of the local physicians and their teams.    

Cultural safety workshop success

In the 2023 year the communities of Creston and Fernie each held a CME-accredited Cultural Safety workshop through the RCME Community Fund Program. This workshop was a partnership with the East Kootenay Primary Care Network, Facility Engagement and RCME community program funds and was developed and facilitated by local physicians and the cultural educator from Ktunaxa Nation.   

The workshop included an introduction to cultural safety and humility and then took participants through a patient’s journey to illustrate frequent pain points experienced by Indigenous peoples when seeking healthcare. The session concluded with a Q&A panel of Ktunaxa representatives and guests, as well as a physician who provides care to the local band.  

Explore the numbers

103 RSA Communities

103 RSA Communities

During the 2023 calendar year, the team increased our total number of RSA Communities implemented into the RCME Community Fund Program to 103

13 SPIFI Funded projects

13 SPIFI Funded projects

In 2023, the Specialist, Sub-specialty, Indigenous and Funding for Innovation (SPIFI) program approved 13 projects across four health authorities covering 28 communities. The SPIFI program is an additional source of funding to address community learning needs

100% Positive response

100% Positive response

After a cultural safety workshop in Creston, 100% of survey respondents indicated that they learned how to be more trauma informed in their work as a result of this workshop

Partnership Work

Through the NITAOP Program; the Rural Program’s Liaison team is one of many key cogs in the wheel which make the program work. Our team has been focussed on developing these relationships to complete this work as collaboratively as possible. The Ministry of Health Rural Program’s staff has increased the frequency of our meetings and we have extended an invitation to additional stakeholders including; Locums for Rural BC, Fraser Health Authority, Nisga’a Valley Health Authority and the Mary Pack Arthritis Program to partner in the annual NITAOP Planning Meeting in the next fiscal year. 

Our provincial team has been focussed on strengthening our partnership with the Regional Health Authorities by becoming a program that can offload administrative burden, aid with policy interpretation and educating staff, and physicians on available benefits. When complex program policies are constraining a community, the unique Rural Program Liaison positions can provide local insight to the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues if policies feel to be working against the community.  

On the RCME Liaison side, we continue to work closely with UBC CPD to plan education and accredited learning opportunities, Doctors of BC Facilities Engagement team, Divisions of Family Practice, MSA’s, Community Led Health Care Auxiliaries, and with the Rural Education Action Plan to co-fund these CME events. As we continue to build the program beyond community implementation, the team will be focussed on creating stronger networks between communities and across multiple health authorities. 

Team Members

Click on a team member to explore which other projects they have contributed to in the past year.

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