Training more new doctors in Alberta

New provincial funding will allow U of A to train more medical students and residents who will practise in rural communities, ensuring all Albertans receive top-quality health care.


(From left) Advanced Education Minister Demetrios Nicolaides, Interim Dean Greta Cummings of the U of A's College of Health Sciences, Dean Brenda Hemmelgarn of the U of A’s Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, Dean Todd Anderson of the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine; and Health Minister Jason Copping were at the U of A on March 13 to announce new provincial funding that will help meet a need for new doctors in rural and Indigenous communities throughout the province. (Photo: Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry)

The University of Alberta’s Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry will be able to train more new doctors who will live and work in communities throughout Alberta, thanks to $20 million in new provincial funding to create 60 new physician seats at the U of A and the University of Calgary over the next three years.

In addition to that money, the Government of Alberta government is investing $113 million to add 100 residency training spaces for newly graduated doctors, particularly in rural areas and generalist fields, as well as ensure that physicians affiliated with Alberta’s faculties of medicine are compensated for providing patient care along with their work related to education, research, and administration. These moves respond to a joint proposal from the two institutions.

“This investment in our medical schools is a direct investment in the health of Albertans,” says Brenda Hemmelgarn, dean of the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. “These dollars will train new physicians, increase opportunities for medical residents and support those who train them, ensuring world-class care in every corner of the province.”

The number of physician seats is expected to grow by 58 per cent over 10 years, according to the Government of Alberta.

The financial boost is a significant step toward increasing access to better health care for people in rural and Indigenous communities, Hemmelgarn says.

“When coupled with the equally important expansion of training opportunities for nurses and other health-care providers, the planned increases over the next three years will be an energizing spark that propels our health system.”

The new funding follows on a $48.3-million investment from the Alberta government last May to boost enrolment in five high-demand U of A programs including nursing, which was ranked as the top program in Canada in a respected global ranking.

Funding in the 2023 provincial budget is earmarked to further expand the capacity of the broader health-care system, creating more than 600 new seats in nurse bridging programs over three years, and 1,800 new seats in other health-care training programs for nursing, health-care aide and paramedicine programs.