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Schulich Medicine & Dentistry makes an impact at SRPC 2013


Friday, April 12, 2013

This year a “sea of purple” coloured the poster presentations at the Society of Rural Physicians of Canada’s (SRPC) Rural and Remote Medicine Course as students from Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University presented their research.

The Southwestern Ontario Medical Education Network (SWOMEN) is very proud of the support we offer for research activities and conference attendance, and 2013’s “From Sea to Sea to Sea” event was a huge success for the students and faculty who received our support to attend.

Sarah Donaldson, a second-year student at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, won second place for her research poster exploring attitudes toward complementary and alternative medicines. She was also interviewed about her research and filmed for a blog by an arthritis patient advocacy group. Donaldson, along with Krista Margeson, Scott Odorizzi, and Nick Papalia sported a purple Western t-shirt during the poster presentations and the visual effect was remarkable.

Papalia was particularly appreciative of his experience in Victoria. He tells us, “Not only did I get to perform research in a field that is often neglected – health literacy – but I got to present it to many health professionals from all over Canada.  I was also fortunate enough to entertain Dr. James Rourke, often regarded as one of the driving forces in rural medicine in Canada. To be able to discuss my research project with a physician of such caliber was an experience that I’ll never forget.”

Dr. Rourke is currently the Dean of Medicine at Memorial University in Newfoundland and was the founding director of Southwestern Ontario Rural Medicine (SWORM), the precursor to SWOMEN which laid the groundwork for rural and regional distributed medical education at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.

Dr. Rourke noted the School's strong presence and called it "...a good reflection on Western's development of its distributed medical educational network." He also stated that because of "...the continuing shortage of rural physicians, and the large number of rural communities in southwestern Ontario, this work is so important for Western University."

An enthusiastic team from SWOMEN also attended the conference, networking with rural and regional physicians from across Canada while participating in various workshops and presentations on a wide variety of topics. Roger Porcellato, who presented two research posters on behalf of SWOMEN, called the experience a “unique opportunity to interact with physicians and medical learners from across Canada with such a passion for rural medicine."

Dr. Ken Milne, an emergency medicine preceptor and champion for rural research, was thrilled with the representation from Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and he summed up the success of the event by stating that "SWOMEN has fostered a culture of rural research excellence. The result was purple and proud Western students dominating the SRPC poster presentations."

We look forward to participating in the planning committee again for next year’s Course, which will be held in Banff Alberta at the end of March, 2014.


  1. Top: (l-r) Dr. Ken Milne, Scott Odorizzi, Jimmy Yan
  2. Middle: Sarah Donaldson
  3. Bottom: Dr. Jim Rourke, Nick Papalia