Dr. John Pawlovich appointed the next Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health
A family doctor who has dedicated his career to improving the health of rural, remote and Indigenous communities has been appointed the next Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health.
“People living in rural, remote and Indigenous communities have unique health-care needs, and the pandemic has emphasized this,” said B.C. Health Minister Adrian Dix. “We are working with partners in communities to meet these needs and as part of this commitment, we are proud to invest in this important position. We welcome Dr. John Pawlovich to his new role, where he will provide leadership for education, training and research to improve health-care access for people throughout the province living in these communities.”
The position—funded through the Joint Standing Committee on Rural Issues (JSC), a partnership between the B.C. Ministry of Health and Doctors of BC—is dedicated to advancing rural health education and research in B.C. The JSC has provided $840,000 in new funding to support rural health initiatives in B.C. and committed an additional $2.5 million in matching funds to support fundraising through UBC to double the $5 million endowment for the chair.
During his appointment, Dr. Pawlovich, a clinical professor in UBC’s department of family practice, will collaborate with academic institutions, government, rural healthcare providers and communities to enhance health education and training and explore healthcare innovations that will build capacity in rural, remote and Indigenous settings.
“The collaborative energy among government, health authorities, universities, rural healthcare practitioners, communities and patients is mounting to overcome longstanding barriers and inequities in the healthcare system,” said Dr. Alan Ruddiman, a rural physician in Oliver, the co-chair of the JSC, and director at the Rural Coordination Centre of BC (RCCbc). “This is the power of working together in partnership to achieve sustainable health service delivery in rural and remote areas of our province.”
As chair, Dr. Pawlovich will also support the growth of an integrated rural health research program relevant to rural, remote and Indigenous populations of B.C.
“Dr. John Pawlovich is deeply committed to social accountability and has embraced innovative technologies to reach those most in need and enable greater access to culturally-safe healthcare in Indigenous communities,” said Dr. Dermot Kelleher, dean of the faculty of medicine and vice-president, health at UBC. “His efforts toward equitable access to daily health services and optimal health for British Columbians in rural and remote areas are essential to our vision of transforming health for everyone.”
A graduate of UBC’s medical program, Dr. Pawlovich is the medical director for Carrier Sekani Family Services and provides medical care to a number of Indigenous communities, including Takla Landing, located approximately 400km north of Prince George.
“I am honoured to serve as the next Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health, helping to advance rural health education and research to close the delivery gap in more isolated communities across B.C.”
Dr. John Pawlovich
“Takla represents many B.C. communities that are geographically very far from any large health centre,” said Dr. Pawlovich. “These communities are really disadvantaged in terms of how they access primary, specialty and emergency care. These are also the communities where we best understand our work to do around equity and access to care. I am honoured to serve as the next Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health, helping to advance rural health education and research to close the delivery gap in more isolated communities across B.C.”
Dr. Pawlovich is also the virtual health lead for the RCCbc and teaches and mentors medical students, residents and physicians in rural practice through his role as co-director of the JSC’s Rural Education Action Plan.
Dr. Pawlovich’s appointment follows Dr. David Snadden’s five-year term as the founding Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health. From 2016 to 2020, Dr. Snadden has been a leader and connector in the development of community-led and team-based healthcare in Northern B.C. He worked closely with RCCbc and partners to shape progress in vital areas of rural healthcare such as transportation, safety, humility, Indigenous health and virtual health.
The Ministry of Health, Doctors of BC, RCCbc and UBC’s Faculty of Medicine acknowledge and thank Dr. Snadden for his many impactful contributions.
Dr. Pawlovich’s five-year term continues until November 2025.
Read a conversation with Dr. Pawlovich to discover more about his aspirations as the next Rural Doctors’ UBC Chair in Rural Health.