Discovery Week brings rural and regional medicine front and centre

Six million Canadians live in rural and remote communities, making up almost 20 per cent of the population. The Canadian Institute for Health Information reports that less than ten per cent of physicians practise in those areas, but that number has been on the steady increase since 2013.

Research has shown that one of the four factors which increases the likelihood of a physician choosing to practise in rural and remote communities is a positive exposure to rural practise in medical school. At Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Discovery Week is one opportunity for medical students to work alongside health care practitioners and physicians in rural and remote areas to better understand what it means to practise there.

Discovery Week is a unique learning opportunity that provides medical students with the chance to be embedded into the health care environment in communities across the region for a week, providing a first-hand look at the diverse experiences which impact health and wellness.

“This experience allowed me to experience a new side of health care that I hadn’t seen before,”

-Ziad Sabaa-Ayoun, Medicine Class of 2022

“This experience allowed me to experience a new side of health care that I hadn’t seen before,” said Ziad Sabaa-Ayoun, Medicine Class of 2022. “Having grown up in London, I was surprised at how differently the dynamic was within the allied health team in a rural community compared to London. The experience was very eye opening and enlightening, and I was pleasantly surprised at how efficient the system worked over all.”

This year’s Discovery Week took place during one of two weeks, May 20-24 and May 27-31. The 33 participating communities extended from St. Thomas to Owen Sound.

“Discovery Week allows our students to understand the opportunities and challenges of rural and regional medicine,” said Dr. George Kim, assistant dean, Rural and Regional Community Engagement at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. “We are so pleased to be able to work in collaboration with our partners across the region to provide future physicians with this important learning opportunity.”