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From theory to practice: Taking medical education outside the classroom

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Tuesday, September 15, 2015

This summer, after my first year of medical school, I completed a non-credit preclerkship summer elective (NPSE) with two family physicians in Niagara Falls. I thought it would be useful to better understand the patient demographic in my intended region of practice, and I reached out to these physicians based on the incorporation of obstetrics and gynaecology in their practices.

After getting a taste of family medicine during Discovery Week, I hoped that my NPSE would allow me to become more comfortable and thorough in taking patient histories.

During the course of the summer, I not only became more confident in the clinical setting, but I also gained a better sense of the main clinical conditions managed in family practice, such as diabetes and musculoskeletal problems. Witnessing the management of these diseases in actual patients was very useful in reinforcing the theoretical knowledge I acquired during my first year of studies.

Regarding the obstetrical focus of their practice, my preceptors allowed me to safely be involved during patients’ labour and delivery and to practise skills in prenatal care, such as measuring fundal height and fetal heart rate.

During my NPSE, I saw several patients and their families come in on more than one occasion for newly presenting or chronic concerns, allowing me to develop a better appreciation for the continuity of care in family medicine.

I was amazed by the pivotal role these physicians played in the lives of entire families of patients. At this stage in their careers, my preceptors were delivering the children of adults they had delivered 20 years prior!

It was clear to me that my preceptors genuinely cared for their patients and, conversely, these patients trusted deeply in my preceptors. One of my preceptors is among the few remaining family physicians in Niagara to make daily hospital visits to his patients, and he runs a weekly outpatient clinic for mole removals and hydrocortisone injections so that his patients can receive more timely care than if they were to be referred through the system.

These physicians were excellent role models to me, and wonderful teachers. This experience truly set a standard for the doctor-patient relationships I hope to have in my own practice.

To anyone interested in doing an NPSE, I believe you can benefit greatly from working alongside physicians who are eager to teach and who put their patients first.

-Adriana Cappelletti, Medicine Class of 2018





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