Almost half of all University of Calgary medical graduates plan to go into family medicine to help ease the crunch.

The school estimates 79 of this year’s graduates plan to study family medicine, with 28 staying in Calgary for their residencies and the rest going across Canada.

“What's important is that we develop a balance of types of doctors: approximately half as family doctors and half in other specialties,” said Dr. David Keegan, deputy head of the family medicine department, in a release.

Students are “matched” for their residencies through a Canadian program that allows them to select what they wish to do after graduation.

According to the University of Calgary, 46 per cent of students were matched to family medicine — compared to 19.4 per cent in 2008.

University officials credit initiatives launched over the last four years, such as having first-year students shadow family physicians and having family physicians teach classes.

Students are also encouraged to take part in specialty projects in family medicine such as research and developing learning resources. 

Alberta currently has 398 vacancies for family and general practitioners, according to the Alberta Physicians Link website.

This trend towards family medicine reflects the University of Calgary's focus over the last four years on increasing the number of family doctors locally. 

"Albertans have long faced a shortage of family doctors," said U of C president Elizabeth Cannon in a release.

"The University of Calgary is proud to support the Faculty of Medicine's concentrated efforts to promote family medicine as a fulfilling career among the next generation of physicians and the demonstrated commitment to meeting the needs of our community."