April 2019

David Snadden Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health, Prince George BC.


“David Snadden is a graduate of the University of Dundee in Scotland and was a full-time rural general practitioner and family resident trainer for 11 years in the Highlands of Scotland. Following further academic training at the University of Western Ontario, where he completed a Master’s degree in Family Medicine in 1991, he returned to Scotland and became Senior Lecturer at the Department of General Practice, University of Dundee. During his time in Dundee he helped develop the first integrated postgraduate and undergraduate Department of General Practice in the UK and also completed his Doctoral degree, his thesis explored the use of learning portfolios in general practice training. He became Director of Postgraduate General Practice Education in 1996 and jointly led the integrated department until 2003. David also worked with the teaching hospital sector as Associate Postgraduate Dean where he was responsible for the first year of general residency training, some specialty programs and fitness to practice issues.He is a Fellow of the Royal College of General Practitioners, a Certificant of the College of Family Physicians of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. David joined the Northern Medical Program in July 2003 to lead its establishment and development. The distributed medical education model developed in BC was innovative and helped shape similar changes across Canada and internationally. In 2011 he was appointed as Executive Associate Dean Education in the Faulty of Medicine and was responsible for all the educational programs in the Faculty across the Province until his term finished in June 2016.” – UNBC

More about me here!

Thank you for joining us this month to talk about your work in rural health across the province. How did you come to get involved with RHSRNbc/RCCbc?
As Rural Chair I work closely with the RCCbc.

What research projects are you currently working on?
Currently, I have various projects ongoing but some of my main research projects include:

  1. The Partnering for Change 2 study: This is a study that is examining the processes of Primary Care Reform in Northern BC. The study is examining the “how” of the reform processes and the partnership between Northern Health, health care staff, including physicians, and communities. Changing health systems is a long process and publications from Partnering for Change 1 are in process, and the current study is just starting and due to run for at least three years.
  2. Developing a Hermeneutic Approach to Implementation Science: This is a SPOR project and is just starting. Both this and the above study are led by Martha Macleod, Northern Health / UNBC Knowledge Mobilization Chair.
  3. I am just completing a project with Australian Colleagues which was a review of Australian and international approaches to family medicine residency training there which focuses on informing a reorganization of Australian residency programs.
  4. I am also a part of the CIHR Funded national Early Career Primary Care Physicians in Canada project led by Ruth Lavergne at SFU.

What inspired your interest in rural health research?
I started off as a rural family physician in the Highlands of Scotland and have always been intrigued by the way rural communities and health professionals deal with the problems they face through innovative solutions.

In your opinion, why is research important in the rural health context?

Rural communities, wherever you go, have poorer access to health care, yet rural health care workers are some of the most highly skilled I have come across. Research in general follows the same pattern where the rural elements are often excluded and consequent research findings do not translate well to rural. Rural has much to offer society in general in terms of how to deliver of health care and also has significant issues to overcome that are not necessarily relevant in urban areas. There are lots of opportunities in rural setting to engage with research and lead research that will help rural health care.

Do you have any tips for members just getting started with research? 

The modern research environment is complex and there are certain processes such as gaining ethics approval for any study that must be followed. It is hard to start the research journey alone so look for help such as that provided by the RCCbc or the RHSRNbc to get some tips on how to get going.

What are some important elements to consider when conducting research?

Ethics is important as is funding, as even small studies need some resources. The most important thing is to take advice at the beginning on study design and what you are hoping to achieve and see if there is anyone with research experience you can collaborate with.

What are some of the obstacles you had faced when conducting research and how did you overcoming them?

Research is more fun when in collaboration with a multidisciplinary team. Having people you work with over a period of time is the best way to overcome obstacles like funding and how to effectively design a study. In my early research career I found formal training to be a great help as well as it helped me understand various methods better.

Getting to the fun stuff now, what is your favorite indoor and/or outdoor activity?

I like being in the mountains, whether it is hiking or climbing in summer or backcountry or cross country skiing in the winter.

If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do?

I would figure out how to give most of it away – probably through setting up scholarships for underprivileged students to pursue health careers.

If you could go back to any year in time, which one would you choose and why?

Probably the turn of the century when I was more fit and active than I am now, and when the world was a much safer place to travel in.

What is one fun fact about yourself?

For someone who loves rural environments I was born and raised in big cities – Mumbai and Singapore.

Thank you Dr. Snadden for joining us on this month's Spotlight Feature!