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The Department of Family Medicine helps address family doctor shortage in China

For three months, Western University hosted delegates from the Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China with the aim of helping to solve one of China’s greatest healthcare challenges.

As the country works to build a robust healthcare system, one of its most challenging tasks has been filling an immense gap of primary care physicians. Currently in China only 3 per cent of all doctors practise family medicine; that’s compared to roughly 50 per cent in Canada, and many of those 3 per cent practise in rural locations and have very limited formal training.

“Patients are released from very sophisticated, high-end hospitals in the urban centres in China, and then often have little access to care in their communities,” said Dr. John Denstedt, Special Advisor to the Dean of the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry on Health Globalization, Internationalization and Simulation.

Using the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry’s renowned family medicine program as a model, academic and clinical leaders from Nanjing Medical University will be gaining first-hand knowledge of how to set up effective family medicine training programs at home.

“We could train hundreds of family physicians from China here, and it would only be a drop in the bucket,” says Denstedt. “Instead, our goal is to train the trainers, so that they are able to bring this knowledge back to China and use our system as a model for their own training programs.”

Drs. Yayun Wang and Lingxia Wu from Nanjing will spend three months shadowing physicians, observing postgraduate family medicine teaching, sitting in on departmental meetings and learning about the family medicine research that takes place at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry in the Department of Family Medicine.

“As the birthplace of family medicine in Canada, Western is positioned perfectly to take a leading role in providing this training,” said Dr. Stephen Wetmore, Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. “During their time here, they’ll learn how we gear our teaching toward providing excellent training for family practitioners.”