What is PRP?
In October 2016, the AMA and Alberta government signed the AMA Amending Agreement, which included a wide range of measures in collaboration to improve the quality and sustainability of the provincial health system. Some of these measures include:
- Primary Care Network evolution and governance
- Schedule of Medical Benefits changes to physician fee rules
- Health information system innovation (ie, NetCare and electronic health records)
- Creation of a physician resource plan for Alberta
- And many more initiatives – see further information here
As part of the goal to develop a needs-based physician resource plan for Alberta, the Physician Resource Planning Committee (PRPC) was created. A needs-based physician resource plan is ensuring the right types of physicians are servicing the right places. In Alberta, there is currently an oversaturation of physicians in some urban areas, particularly in primary care, and under-serviced communities in many rural and remote regions, and shortages in certain urban areas as well. The PRPC and its working groups are developing policies and mechanisms to address this. "The absolute number of physicians (and consequently the physician services budget) has grown in recent years, while physician distribution in underserved areas have not been sufficient to meet population needs.
Alberta Health’s central website with information on physician resource planning and the committee is here.
The committee’s membership consists of representatives of Alberta Health, Alberta Health Services, the two medical school faculties (Deans), the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Alberta (CPSA), the Provincial Association of Resident Physicians of Alberta (PARA), and both medical school’s MSAs. The PRPC began meeting in late October 2016 and had several meetings over the course of the 2016-17 year. Meetings now occur on a monthly basis as the government seeks to draft and implement regulations with the committee’s guidance.
The PRPC has established Technical and Operational Working Groups to provide advice on data and mechanisms to guide the PRPC’s work. In addition to representation on the PRPC itself, the MSA has a student representative on the operational group.
No final decisions have yet been made. The Alberta Cabinet (Premier and Ministers) will make the final decision on the regulatory framework drafted by Alberta Health with the input of the PRPC. As of now, a decision is anticipated by July 2017.
Why does this matter to me?
Physician supply policies will have significant short- and long-term effects on medical trainees’ career paths and working environment. The MSA is committed to ensuring you are fully informed as you make your decisions for CaRMS and beyond. We are advocating that the PRPC ensure clear and transparent communication and equity in its work, to avoid disproportionately impacting new physicians (graduating students and residents) with workforce planning policies. We are also working to inform the PRPC on the decision-making factors that matter to students, so that the plan can account for these, and minimise the impact of unintended consequences such as migration to other provinces.