Rural town pays for future doctor's training

A community in Manitoba is taking on the challenge of finding its own doctor – and town officials expect their efforts to pay off in about six years.

A community in Manitoba is taking on the challenge of finding its own doctor – and town officials expect their efforts to pay off in about six years.

The Town of Boissevain is about to sign a contract with a student from Brandon heading off to medical school in Hungary.

The community will pay for Rikki Yahiro's six years of education, if he works in the community for an equivalent amount of time once he's competed his program.

Yahiro, 22, has been accepted into medical school in Hungary; he applied after discovering how difficult it was to get into med school in Canada.

Starting in September, he'll take four years of classes, in English, at the University of Pécs in the city of the same name in southern Hungary followed by a two-year residency, either in Canada or in Hungary. He'll also have to take a series of accreditation tests to be qualified to practise in Canada.

Yahiro, who currently lives in Brandon, says the deal with Boissevain works out great for him.

"We were always in Boissevain, anyway," he told CBC News. "Me and my dad would go down there and fish, or we'd go out and hunt turkeys or chickens or ducks. They have everything right there."

Like many communities in rural Manitoba, the Boissevain area is considered "short" one doctor, with just one physician serving the area's 1,500 residents.

The community has plans in place for a new doctor to start in May, but Mayor Ed Anderson says it's time for the town to take a more proactive, long-term approach to the physician shortages that plague rural areas.

"It just seemed to me we needed to look long term [at] the medical doctor situation," he said.

"There's some hospitals that are being closed down, clinics are being closed down. We're not at that point in Boissevain, but we don't want to have to be at that point, so I think we need to take care of our own."

Yahiro's schooling is expected to cost about $20,000 per year. The Town of Boissevain, the Rural Municipality of Morton and the Boissevain/Morton Foundation will cover the cost.

If the area has a full slate of doctors when Yahiro graduates, the community can either loan out the doctor's services or sell his contract to another community.