Challenges and opportunities await learners in Oxford County
By Max Martin, MA'19
Oxford County is ripe with exciting medical challenges and unique learning experiences for those ready to tackle them.
With Dr. Ian Hons in place as the new Regional Academic Director (RAD) for Oxford County with Schulich Medicine & Dentistry’s Distributed Education program, more of those opportunities will be available to learners from the School.
“We have lots of educational opportunities here in Oxford,” said Dr. Hons. “We can provide a truly comprehensive learning experience to residents and expose medical students to the challenges and opportunities that exist in rural environments.
“We have lots of educational opportunities here in Oxford,” said Dr. Hons. “We can provide a truly comprehensive learning experience to residents and expose medical students to the challenges and opportunities that exist in rural environments.”
Dr. Hons is currently the Program Director for the Hospitalist Department at Woodstock General Hospital, a hospital he began working at in 2016. He was appointed to the RAD position at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry in July 2019.
In the role, he’s responsible for promoting the perspective of rural and regional health care in the undergraduate and postgraduate curricula, as well as in continuing professional development programs.
Since his appointment, he’s been busy building connections with local hospitals in Woodstock, Tillsonburg and Ingersoll, meeting with staff to discover what their needs are and what learning experiences might be available.
“We’ve got a large but fairly dynamic rural population that’s in a state of flux,” Dr. Hons explained. “We see a lot of traditional medicine here, but we’re also now starting to see more complex cases or what might be called ‘big city problems’ coming our way.”
Dr. Hons says his first priority is expanding resident teaching opportunities in Oxford County.
One benefit learners could experience is the chance to wear multiple hats in family medicine and hospital settings. Although Dr. Hons is a Hospitalist, he says he’s often working in the emergency department, assists in the chemotherapy clinic and covers various locums when needed.
It’s a varied daily routine that’s to be expected in rural areas, where resources, staff and specialists are often more limited than in bigger cities. But that fact, Dr. Hons says, provides a dynamic challenge for those willing to take it on – and also the chance to be even more involved with patients throughout their health care journey.
“That’s the appeal of rural medicine, and it’s something we can demonstrate and model for learners,” he said.
Schulich Medicine & Dentistry has six RADs across Southwestern Ontario, all working to foster connections and meaningful learning opportunities in local communities.
As Dr. Hons continues to sow deeper roots in the Oxford County soil, he highlights the growth of opportunities he foresees in the region for future medical professionals.
“I think Oxford County is on the cusp of expanding into something really big,” he said. “There’s going to be exciting growth in Oxford in the next five to 10 years, and there will be lots of opportunity for primary care and even specialists as we expand.”