Rural round-up: Dave Schmitz on collaboration with the USA

David Schmitz, executive member of the WONCA Working Party on Rural Practice (WPRP) for North America and the president of the USA's 2017 National Rural Health Association (NRHA), shares his hopes for collaboration and upcoming conferences.

WONCA membership and participation gives us an opportunity to view our local efforts with a global perspective. In doing this, I find our challenges and also our aptitudes for overcoming them are more often similar than different.

That is why I am excited and energized by the upcoming synergy between the WONCA WPRP's World Rural Health Conference being held in Cairns, Australia, 29th April to 2nd May, and the annual Rural Health Conference of the National Rural Health Association occurring in San Diego, California, USA, from 9th May to 12th May. Visit NRHA conference website here.

Each venue grants the opportunity to learn about research in rural health and the best means of addressing the most crucial rural health concerns of our time and, perhaps most importantly, to forge collaborative relationships with our peers that will last far beyond the closing ceremonies.

Dr. John Wynn-Jones, chair of the WONCA WPRP, will be the keynote speaker at the Annual Terry Reilly Memorial Lecture. This lecture is dedicated to both community service and engagement and empowerment of us all to make a difference in the care of people in rural and underserved communities.

The NRHA conference this year will include themes such as health equity, education of our next generation of health professionals, and development of community-engaged rural research in primary care. It also includes a special student track.

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the NRHA provides leadership on rural health issues through advocacy, communications, education and research. The NRHA is unique among national health organizations, with a membership that includes a diverse collection of individuals and organizations, from policy experts to health care practitioners, all of whom share the common interest in rural health. So join your colleagues to make a difference for rural health today. Whether attending a global, national or local community meeting, we can all look for similarities and the team spirit it takes to succeed. Participation with WONCA helps teach each of us this important lesson.

David Schmitz, MD, is chair and Dr. Verrill J. and Ruth Fischer Professor of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine and Health Sciences. The university also hosts the WONCA rural resource page found at the link below.

WONCA Rural resource page