The University of Calgary has received $8 million from the province to help get more family doctors in Alberta.

About 18 per cent of graduates from the university’s medical faculty go on to pursue family medicine.

“This is a great way to start out the new year,” says Dr. Cathy MacLean, head of the Department of Family Medicine. “This new funding will allow us to hire more family doctors to train graduating medical students as full family physicians. It’ll also continue to build the role of family medicine at the medical school and increase student interest in this as a career choice.”

But the U of C says by 2013, the goal is to have 50 per cent of graduates choosing a family practice for a career.

There are currently about 4,000 family doctors in Alberta, but it’s estimated another 1,000 are needed. In Calgary alone, one in four residents does not have a family doctor.

The funding will be used to train more students and physicians in family medicine, create five new faculty positions and support research.