JSC launches Provincial Community RCME Program

This new initiative will create forums for rural generalists and specialists to come together to collectively plan and develop community CME. It will increase opportunities for closer to home education for interprofessional teams, and develop collaborations between rural physicians, health authorities and stakeholders.

Submitted by Heather Gummow, Provincial Manager, Community RCME, RCCbc

The Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues (JSC) recently announced the launch of the Community Rural Continuing Medical Education (RCME) Program, an exciting new initiative which will provide funds to eligible RSA communities across BC for collective medical education and/or team-based learning.

This new program was developed after the JSC elected in January 2018 to flow individual RCME funds directly to rural physicians. While this welcome change of process simplified rural physician access to individual RCME funding, it also eliminated Reverted Community Funds – accumulated unspent individual RCME funds that were used by some communities for collective team-based learning and training. Over the past year, consultation with rural physicians, health authorities and innovative CME models across the province demonstrated the value of Reverted Community Funds, with the JSC learning that rural providers want to retain the capacity to engage in collective and team-based learning. Subsequently, the JSC approved the funding and development of the Community RCME Program as an additional educational support for BC’s rural healthcare providers.

The Community RCME Program provides $2.2 million in annual funding to RSA communities, distributed equitably across the province. Prince George physician, Dr. Ian Schokking, is the Physician Lead for the new program and – along with Heather Gummow, Provincial Manager, Community RCME, RCCbc – will be providing program implementation and oversight, including: design; development of community and provincial reporting; supporting transfers of funds; and, providing leadership and training to RCME coordinators at  local and regional levels. Dr. Schokking and Mrs. Gummow are leading a team that is currently working with rural physicians and health authorities to develop additional resources to understand local and regional healthcare priorities, as well as gather data on RCME spending, activities and community reach for reporting purposes. Data on spending and activities will be evaluated and used to inform the development of future medical education programs and offerings in BC. Provincial RCME Coordinators, sitting within health authorities and reporting to the JSC via the RCCbc, will be hired in the coming months to provide overall management for the program at a regional level.

Another exciting feature of the program that is currently being developed is a new innovation fund to facilitate innovative RCME ideas and opportunities for rural specialists, GPs with sub-specialties, and indigenous communities. To learn more about this fund, contact Heather Gummow at hgummow@rccbc.ca.

Implementation team members within RCCbc are starting to reach out to RSA communities across BC, beginning with communities of physicians whose Community Reverted Funds have been depleted, to ensure that these groups can continue planning and delivering CME with minimal disruption. The initial steps of the process require specialists (where present) and family physicians to work together to develop a community CME delivery model and to make decisions that benefit all physicians in the community. The implementation team will “meet each community where they are at” – whether there is an existing community CME delivery model, or no group learning strategy at all – and support the group in the development of their desired infrastructure. At the same time, the implementation team will also be working with communities who have significant reverted funds remaining, to ensure that support is provided and plans are developed to coordinate education strategies at a community level. The Community RCME implementation team is here to help communities have a better understanding of the opportunities available for RCME, to better leverage remaining Community Reverted Funds for community/team-based care, and to facilitate the transition of these communities over to the JSC’s new Community RCME Program. Once the JSC program is implemented, RSA communities will receive funding each year to address community RCME needs. Annual reviews of resources, funding and community models of delivery will be validated with reporting to the JSC. 

The aims of the Community RCME go beyond distributing funds. Our goal is to support every community of physicians to have a model in place that allows healthcare providers to address their community RCME needs sustainably.

Our research on innovative models for community RCME developed by physician groups show that it’s important to create solid processes and roles that can be scaled to any community situation.  While many communities will opt to develop local group learning, there are also benefits that accrue when multiple communities work together in collaboration. Our team can help you develop such a model, where there is interest among communities.

If you have any questions about the Community RCME Program or the implementation process, please contact Heather Gummow, Provincial Manager, Community RCME at hgummow@RCCbc.ca or check out the information available on the RCCbc website