Western’s medical students gain first-hand experience in rural medicine

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Over the next two weeks, first year medical students from Western University's Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry will get a taste of what it's like to work and live in rural and mid-sized communities throughout southwestern Ontario. The 169 students are participating in "Discovery Week," a program organized by the Southwestern Ontario Medical Education Network (SWOMEN) to encourage future graduates to consider setting up practice in rural and underserviced areas.

More than 200 physicians currently working in southwestern Ontario gained an appreciation for rural and regional medicine through SWOMEN. For instance, Dr. Mike Peterson who has a practice in the village of Lucan, participated in some electives through SWOMEN while doing his undergraduate training at the University of Ottawa. He then came to Western to do his residency in family medicine and now, helps train students from Schulich Medicine.

"Discovery Week" will see the students fanning out to hospitals and medical centres from Tobermory to Point Pelee. For most, it's their first hands-on medical experience, and it's a much-anticipated finale to their first year of classes. To accommodate everyone from both the London and Windsor campuses, "Discovery Week" is being spread out over two weeks, May 28 to June 8.

Along with shadowing physicians and other healthcare practitioners, students will be visiting local high schools to answer questions about medical school. 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 a winery tour, hiking, sailing or dining out. At the end of each week, the students gather to share their experiences.