In the fall of 2014 Queen's Family Medicine was approached by representatives of the government of the Falkland Islands to investigate the possibility of our Department assisting with the recruitment of well-trained FPs to work in their remote setting. The Falklands is a British Overseas Territory, population of approximately 3000, and while it is an autonomous entity, they are dependent on Britain for most services, including health care. In recent years, because of changes to the way that British GPs are trained, it has become difficult for the Falklands to recruit comprehensively trained physicians for their setting. As a result they have become increasingly dependent on short-term locums, many of whom also do not have the required skills and confidence to provide the necessary services. This often leads to expensive and possibly unnecessary medevacs to Uruguay or back to Great Britain. And so, they have been directed towards Canada and specifically to Queen's to help them with this challenge.
Following a site visit in Feb.2015, a more formal relationship has been established between the Falkland Islands and our Department to provide mutually beneficial opportunities for training and recruitment. The setting, while in the South Atlantic Ocean, is quite familiar to any Canadian from a small town or northern or coastal environment. The medical services required are quite familiar to many of us and certainly within the comfort zone of most of our graduating residents, especially those that might have done some enhanced skills training. The 28-bed King Edward VII Memorial Hospital in the capital town of Stanley provides opportunities for emergency work, including trauma coming from the fishing fleets; OB; newborn care; hospitalist and some OR assisting. They are very lucky to have a full-time general surgeon and anesthetist on site as well as a good laboratory and X-Ray/Ultrasound facility.
Because of the large military base on the southern part of the east island with 2200 personnel and family members, there is a close working relationship between the medical officers providing primary care and the hospital which provides secondary care when needed.
These are the opportunities we are offering to our Queen’s Family Medicine residents:
The Falkland Islands Scholarship: a fully-funded PGY3 full year designed to provide enhanced skills training (identical to our rural skills year) to one of our residents in return for a one-year return of service, paid at 150,000 Pounds (about CDN$ 300,000 at today's rate). Training would be done mainly in Ontario with opportunity to also spend time in Falklands. The year would include enhanced training in Obstetrics, neonatal care, trauma, hospitalist medicine, plastic surgery and procedures, emergency medicine as well as other relevant electives.
A 2-month core Rural FM experience, which would be centered in the main town of Stanley at the hospital under the supervision of Dr. Rebecca Edwards, the Chief Medical Officer and other staff GPs as appropriate. This would include clinic work, hospitalist, emergency experience and periodic flying visit "house calls" to other islands in the archipelago. One of the main purposes for a resident to take up this experience would be to assess their interest in applying for the PGY3 scholarship year with return of service.