There’s no place like Home!

“I’ve always known theoretically that the scope of practice of family physicians in rural areas is impressive, but I didn’t realize just how extensive their scope was until I was working alongside them,” said Sara Matyas, now in her 3rd year of medical school at the Max Rady College of Medicine.

The robust and diverse scope of practice of rural physicians was a common theme amongst the 34 medical students that took part in the Home for the Summer Program. The Program, operated by Manitoba’s Office of Rural and Northern Health, pays medical students to work in clinics and hospitals through Manitoba to gain valuable experience.

Aakanksha Sharma, like Matyas, also worked at the Agassiz Medical Centre and was taken aback by all the things that rural physicians do.

“The diversity of practice of a family physician is what I found unique in a rural area.”

A couple hours away in Killarney, Alexander McKinnon “was amazed at how extensive the scope of practice is for rural physicians.” The Program is designed to not only allow medical students to contribute to a team and gain confidence but also to expose them to rural practice during their training, before they decide about potential residency spots.

After working with Dr. Norman Klippenstein in Brandon, Riley Workman commented that the Program “helped me gain skills and build relationships that will be incredibly valuable as I continue with my education and into my career.” He continued, “Even if you don’t have a specific interest in rural medicine, it is great to gain clinical skills, network with people in the field and may enlighten you on the different dynamics that are present in the medical field in different parts of Manitoba.”

Through their work, the students are required to complete a research project drawing on their experience. They then present that researched to a panel of physicians with the winners receiving a small cash prize.

Doctors Manitoba played host to those presentations and a special dinner. The panelists included Dr. Louis Smith, a member of the Executive of Doctors Manitoba, Dr. Holly Hamilton, Dr. Don Klassen, Dr. Jose Francois, Dr. Ira Ripstein and Dr. Jason Scott, a Past-President of Doctors Manitoba.

The mentorship during their summer work had a great impact on the students.

“The physicians are amazing mentors and allowed me the opportunity to learn and experience medicine hands on,” said Sharma.

“I loved the hands-on learning and one-on-one access to an experienced physician such as Dr. Anton Pio,” echoed McKinnon.

“Agassiz treated me as a valued and respected member of their team, which not only built my confidence but provided me with an amazing amount of new clinical experiences,” said Matyas.

McKinnon received an award for his case summary of Community-Initiated Physician Recruitment in Rural Manitoba. Sharma won an award for her research into care of the elderly in Morden while Workman’s case review study for outpatient Oxford Knee Arthroplasty at Brandon Regional Health Centre also won accolades.

What does the future hold for these bright medical students? “I would love to work in a rural community after I graduate from medical school,” said Sharma.

Doctors Manitoba and Manitoba’s Office of Rural and Northern Health were pleased to work together to help show the medical students that their work and their ideas are more than welcome and will indeed help shape the medical profession in Manitoba.

Asked if he’d do it again, McKinnon summed it up: “In a heartbeat.”


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