In the third instalment of the R.E.A.L. Life Perspectives, we get a behind the scenes look at the Central Lambton Family Health Team (CLFHT) with faculty member Dr. Firas Al-Dhaher and second-year Family Medicine resident Dr. Cody Jackson.
Dr. Cody Jackson is a second-year Family Medicine resident with Schulich Medicine & Dentistry. He completed his medical degree at the University of Ottawa in 2016.
Sarah Milner is the Executive Director of CLFHT.
Petrolia is a town of about 6,000 situated in Lambton County, west of London. CLFHT includes a team of family physicians, nurses, social workers, dieticians and other health professionals providing primary care in the community. The team works collaboratively to enhance patient care.
CLFHT is part of Schulich Medicine & Dentistry's Kent-Lambton Academy, which also includes training sites in Sarnia, Chatham and Grand Bend. Distributed Medical Education at the School takes place in more than 60 communities across Southwestern Ontario. Through these types of rural and regional experiences, trainees gain unparalleled exposure to patients, health systems and health challenges.
Thank you to Dr. Firas Al-Dhaher, Sarah Milner and the team at CLFHT for your assistance and support with this project.
When I get the opportunity to mentor learners in the undergraduate years, I’m often asked: “What is your typical day like?” The short answer to that is usually: “A bit of everything”. I start by rounding on my patients at the hospital, some of whom I have known for years and who are there for the provision of care for an acute medical issue. From there, I walk over to my clinic and start my day attending to the health of newborns, the elderly, and everyone in between. On some days, I will also cover the Emergency Room to attend to patients with urgent and emergent medical situations.
With rural medicine, you’re definitely a ‘jack of all trades’, but you’ll also learn to be a master of several.
The medical education and training tradition at Schulich Medicine is one that I’m proud to be a part of, and has inspired me to share it with my younger colleagues. I never thought of myself as a teacher until I had to supervise a student for one of my colleagues who was away from clinic. That paved the way for the opportunity to share my passion for rural comprehensive medicine with students and residents, and I confess that I find learning from them is just as rewarding and fulfilling as the knowledge I share with them.
My objective with teaching is to showcase rural family medicine, how multiple skills from various fields come together in caring for patients without the comfort and resources of academic tertiary centres. Not only do the learners become exposed and take part in providing care for patients in rural communities, but sometimes that awakens a passion within them to practise in a community like Petrolia.
Dr. Cody Jackson, PGY2, Family Medicine
Medical education has been my life for the past six years, through medical school and residency. I have trained in remote, rural, urban and inner city locations, and all have been a crucial experiences for me. In Canada, we train physicians to practise in any environment because every environment needs a physician and each contains unique challenges that graduates need to be prepared for.
The Central Lambton Family Health Team (CLFHT) has been my rural placement this year and it encapsulates well the unique challenges, opportunities and experiences that rural medicine provides. A family physician is often thought of only in the context of their community practice, but this is only one aspect of rural family practice life in the Central Lambton region. Physicians like Dr. Al-Dhaher maintain their community practice but they also care for patients in nursing homes, see patients in the local emergency room, and manage patients when they are admitted to hospital. They are the doctors running a ‘code blue’ if a patient stops breathing or goes into cardiac arrest.
Rarely do medical trainees follow their patients as they traverse multiple different areas of the medical system and develop the skills to balance patients in four different environments simultaneously. This is something residents are exposed to during rural medicine rotations. ‘Cradle to grave’ is often an expression used to describe the role of a family physician, but there is no doctor that better exemplifies this expression than rural family physicians.
Sarah Milner, Executive Director, Central Lambton Family Health Team
The Central Lambton Family Health Team (CLFHT) consists of nine family physicians supported by a diverse group of allied health professionals who work as a team to provide comprehensive primary care to residents of rural Lambton. This rich environment of interdisciplinary care professionals provides an excellent opportunity for medical students and residents to experience care collaboration first hand. Learners interact directly with the care team which enables them to provide shared care.
For many years, the group’s physicians have valued the experience of helping coach and develop residents and medical students. They are able to impart their experience for the purpose of developing the next generation of healers. These relationships have paid off as several students have been recruited later as new physicians to the group.
By nature of being a rural family health team, resources are limited in the county. Learners are forced to be innovative in their approach to care. Their skills are challenged in such a way that leads to tremendous growth. Rural medicine offers a diversity that other settings my not offer. Through the experience, students and residents create an appreciation for the importance of relationships with team and patients.
CLFHT is pleased to provide a learning environment that allows learners to grow and blossom in their practice.