New UBC chair will advance research into rural health

November 15, 2016

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Dave Snadden

Dave Snadden, who oversaw the expansion of medical education and training in northern British Columbia, has been appointed to a newly created position dedicated to improving rural health care.

Dr. Snadden has been appointed the founding Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health, funded through the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues, a partnership between the Ministry of Health and Doctors of BC.

In addition to the $5 million endowment for the Chair, operational funding of $350,000 per year will be provided over the next five years to support the development of a distributed provincial network of rural health researchers and the establishment of a Dean’s Advisory Committee on Rural and Remote Health.

“British Columbians in rural and remote communities face unique challenges in accessing health care,” Minister Lake said. “I’m pleased to see that Dr. Snadden will continue his work in the area of rural health with this new appointment, collaborating with researchers and practitioners on ways to improve our systems of care in these areas of the province.”

Generating and applying knowledge

Based in Prince George, Dr. Snadden will generate new knowledge and apply existing knowledge, working with rural health professionals, health authorities, government, professional associations and educational institutions to formulate concrete, real-world solutions to the challenges faced by rural health professionals and their patients.

Areas that the Rural Chair could explore include: the feasibility and benefits of inter-professional team-based health care; expanding use of tele-health and finding new applications for it; creating customized solutions tailored to each community; enhancing teaching and learning in rural settings; and improving the recruitment and retention of health practitioners in rural areas.

“For more than a decade, UBC has been working to improve rural health care by educating and training many of our students and medical residents in all parts of the province,” said Dermot Kelleher, Dean of the UBC Faculty of Medicine. “With the creation of this Chair, we are expanding that commitment to include research, which will inform and guide our collective efforts to close the delivery gap for health care between our small, more isolated communities and B.C.’s more populated centres.”

Joint effort, broad engagement

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Dean of the Faculty of Medicine Dermot Kelleher (far left) with Minister of Health Terry Lake and founding Rural Health Chair Dave Snadden (holding sign).

The chair was created following a proposal by the Rural Coordination Centre of BC, which works works on behalf of the joint standing committee, and seeks to improve rural health education and advocates for rural health in British Columbia.

While the position falls under the UBC Department of Family Practice, it is intended to be a resource to the faculty of medicine as a whole, including specialty departments and other professional education schools.

“I am both humbled and excited to be appointed as the founding Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health,” Dr. Snadden said. “I will use this opportunity to explore the challenges faced by rural practitioners, as well as what’s working for them. With that knowledge, we can resolve the difficulties and replicate the successes. There is much for us to do to address the needs of rural patients, and it will take many of us working together to make a difference.”

Prior to his role as founding chair of rural health care, Dr. Snadden was the Executive Associate Dean, Education. Before that, he spent eight years overseeing the expansion of UBC’s medical education and training programs to northern B.C., as Regional Associate Dean, Northern B.C.

His three-year term is effective Nov. 1, 2016.

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