Over thirty medical students and residents visited two northern communities this weekend.
The trip was organized by the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SHA) as part of the organization's Roadmap program. The goal is to get students and residents interested in practising medicine in remote communities.
Speaking to paNOW from Ile-a-la-Crosse, Dr. Reid McGonigle explained that while recruiting physicians to the area is the major focus, there are other benefits to the program.
“We know that not all … these students are going to be rural family doctors, some are going to be emergency doctors, some are going to be physiatrists, some will be surgeons … but the road does provide the benefit of showing students what it’s like for patients who live and come from a rural community,” he said.
McGonigle said practising in a more remote community does pose challenges, mainly geographic.
“It’s very different if you live an hour from a city,” he said.
Currently, in Ile-a-la-Crosse, there are six full-time positions which are staffed by nine physicians. Not all nine doctors work full-time hours. The community does bring in doctors on a temporary basis through locums, but with programs like Roadmap, McGonigle is hoping this changes in the future.
“You want people who want to be here and (are) kind of the right fit,” he said.
The trip was made up of first-year medical students and some residents. One of the first year students on the trip was Jessica Froehlich, who is originally from Moose Jaw. Froehlich is interested in rural medicine and was happy to have the chance to visit both communities.
Froehlich said smaller and remote communities having fewer resources can lead to greater teamwork and innovation, which she likes.
“It’s not just the doctor coming up with those (innovations), it never is,” she said.
Along with the ability to work in a different kind of medical environment, Froehlich spoke about how working in remote communities provides the opportunity to work more closely with people in the community.
“Understanding that they know what’s best for them, but you come with certain skills and understanding of how the health care system works and can use that to work together to find a solution,” she said.
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