A group of University of Calgary medical students will begin a nine-month clerkship in nearly a dozen small Alberta towns this week as part of a program aimed at tackling the rural doctor shortage.


Dozens of Alberta communities are in need of doctors. (CBC)

The program sees doctors in training sent to small communities where they are mentored by rural physicians and encouraged to consider starting their medical practice there.

More than 30 Alberta communities have a critical doctor shortage.

Dr. Peter McKernan, who mentors students at a clinic in the Crowsnest Pass, said he's starting to see graduates returning for work.

"I'm trying to show them a life they may want to live and in the last couple of years several of our residents have bought that idea and they've joined us," said Mckernan.

"You really need to take some time, show the young doctors and young students the way your town works. And if you do the teaching you will then find a lifestyle that is good enough to allow these students to come back and spend time with you as your colleagues in the future."

Yan Yu, who will be living and learning in Canmore for the next nine months, said it’s an opportunity to get a variety of experience.

"You don't just see patients in clinics but you also can do emerg, you can do hospital visits, care for patients in hospitals, in operating rooms, that sort of thing," Yan said.

The U of C program has been placing students in rural communities since 2008.