It was a busy weekend of teaching, networking, and eating during the Town of Vegreville’s recent Skills Day and community visit.
Held on the weekend of February 21, first and second year medical students, nursing and physiotherapy students from the University of Alberta, and respiratory students from NAIT made the quick trip down Highway 16 to learn new skills, find out more about rural practise, and get a taste of Vegreville’s legendary hospitality.
“After visiting this place, I am so inspired to work in a rural area,” said Kishor Ojha, a nursing student.
The workshop, sponsored by RPAP | Health Workforce Alberta, was held at St. Joseph’s General Hospital in Vegreville. The skills training was led by local doctors, physiotherapists and EMS, and a special clinic was put on by STARS Alberta.
“It’s a marvelous opportunity to get together to have a day of fellowship and practice skills in a safe environment [and] to experience a rural hospital and setting,” added Dr. Deidre Jackman, Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Alberta’s Faculty of Nursing.
In addition to teaching students basic skills, Skills Weekends are valuable opportunities for rural Alberta communities to showcase local amenities to students in healthcare disciplines. Participants were special guests at a community celebration that featured traditional Ukrainian cuisine and special performances from the Sopilka Ukrainian Dance Ensemble and the Off Ramp Boys.
“This event doesn’t happen overnight, there’s a lot of planning involved,” said Laurie Evans, Community Services Director with the Town of Vegreville, who stressed that the success of the event was a true community effort.
Working together on events like this has made a genuine difference in Vegreville.
In 2011, only three doctors remained in the community. But, with the assistance of RPAP and the efforts of the Vegreville Region Physician Attraction and Retention Committee, the town was able to attract and has been able to retain more physicians. Events such as the Skills Day play an important role in educating students, recruiting prospective healthcare professionals, and celebrating those who have decided to call Vegreville home.
“If the citizens didn’t get involved, we would still be left with two or no doctors,” added Vegreville Mayor, Myron Hayduk.
Since 2004, RPAP-sponsored Medical Skills Days and Weekend events have provided Alberta medical students, and other aspiring healthcare professionals, with the opportunity to experience healthcare delivery in rural setting. Participants learn new skills, meet new people, and explore what living and working in a rural community really mean.