Rural medicine up close

February 6, 2017

What is it really like to practice medicine in a small town?

Twice a year, Northern Medical Program (NMP) students have the opportunity to find out first-hand as part of the Rural Shadowing Program. This special initiative enables students to spend a weekend, either in the spring or fall, with rural doctors to see what their around-the-clock life and work is like.

The experience can include family medicine, in-patient care, emergency medicine and obstetrics.

“I especially appreciated getting insight from both the doctors and nurses about the benefits of, and the challenges faced in, rural medicine,” says Chelsea Hart, Class of 2019. “One thing in particular that was interesting to see in Valemount was how tightly knit the health-care team was and how much they relied on one another.”

PHOTO: Tori Henderson (left) and Chelsea Hart, both Class of 2019, met with Mayor Jeanette Townsend (centre) while in Valemount.

Started in 2013, the program, with support from the Northern Medical Programs Trust, provides rural health experiences for two students who travel together over a weekend to one of three communities (Valemount, Vanderhoof or Mackenzie).

“I really enjoyed my time shadowing in the emergency department. It was a great way to get clinical exposure in a hospital setting, something we don’t normally experience until our third year,” explains Class of 2017’s Julia Varghese, who visited Mackenzie and District Hospital during her second year of studies. “What I found really interesting about rural medicine was how doctors manage patients in communities with more limited resources. For example, managing a head trauma with the nearest CT scanner being two hours away is something you don’t have to really think about in a bigger centre.

“As I may end up practicing in a more rural area, support from the Trust gave me a wonderful learning opportunity to build on as I continue my studies.”

PHOTO: Class of 2019’s Domnick Manhas (left) and classmate Jake Gambling (right) had a chance to meet and shadow NMP Class of 2008 graduate, Dr. James Card, while in Mackenzie.

TOP PHOTO: Vitaliy Chernenko and Alexa Dang (Class of 2019) in Mackenzie.