Year one medical students get a taste of rural practice

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mike Verbora was a first year medical student last year when he was asked to scrub-in and assist with a surgery at the St. Thomas-Elgin General Hospital to remove a nail-gun nail from a man's thumb. That same week Verbora's classmate, Clark Eeuwes was in a medical clinic in Clifford learning just how hard it can be to draw blood from an elderly woman. These are examples of the kind of hands-on experience that make students at The University of Western Ontario's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry so eager for "Discovery Week."

"Discovery Week" sends first year medical students out into hospitals and medical centres across southwestern Ontario to gain a better understanding of what it's like to work and live in rural and mid-sized communities. This year 169 students will participate, the largest group yet. To accommodate everyone from both the London and Windsor campuses, it's being spread out over two weeks, May 30- June 10.

The Rural Regional Program was started through the Southwestern Ontario Medical Education Network (SWOMEN) to encourage Schulich's medical graduates to consider setting up practice in rural and underserviced areas. Communities also see this week as a recruiting opportunity for future physicians, so they showcase all that their area has to offer whether it's boating, theatre, or dining out.

Along with shadowing physicians and other healthcare practitioners, students will be visiting local high schools to answer questions about getting into medical school.