Alberta Rural Physician Action Plan
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February 17, 2016 • Written in Community Support Medical Students 0 Comments

Tagged with Brooks Medical Skills Weekend Medical Students Physician attraction Physician education Physician recruitment • Written by Jonathan Koch

Brooks recently hosted future healthcare professionals for a day, in the hope of bringing them back for a lifetime.

On February 6, 2016, about 50 medical, nursing, physiotherapy, and respiratory therapy students from Calgary and Edmonton participated in a day of skills training at Brooks Health Centre.

Students took part in an RPAP Medical Skills event, sponsored by RPAP | Health Workforce for Alberta. Students training in several healthcare disciplines learned basic medical skills, while being introduced to the advantages of living and working in a rural Alberta community.  

According to Rosemary Burness, event coordinator for RPAP, Medical Skills events also expose students to the inter-disciplinary approach of healthcare delivery that exists in rural communities like Brooks.

“While they’re here, they get to know the medical facility, the people who work here, and they learn how people work as a team. The doctors and nurses, everyone knows each other, and there's a real sense of community.”

Local nurses and physicians guided students through several scenarios covering childbirth, suturing, ultrasound, airway management, and IV initiation. The STARS Mobile Simulation Unit was also on hand, conducting scenarios on a high-fidelity mannequin that reacts with students in real time.

Dr. Daniel van der Merwe, who instructed students in suturing skills, hopes the future practitioners will see that working in a rural practice is both challenging and fulfilling.

“We have a wide scope, we work in the practice, we work with the people of the town, and it's really satisfying to see our work here. I think you make a difference if you work in rural, and you see it in your patients. They are grateful for you being here, and it's just a fun job to have.”

First-year medical student, Josh Nicholas, says the trip to Brooks has opened his eyes to the opportunities that are available in rural communities.

“I had no idea a place like this would have ultrasound and CT imaging abilities,” Nicholas explained. “We haven’t had a whole lot of exposure to ultrasound in medical school yet, so it's been really cool to get that experience.”

The Brooks event marked the first time students from the University of Calgary (U of C) Faculty of Nursing had participated in a Skills Event. Nursing student representative, Alicia Lunz, hopes it won’t be the last.

“I hope that U of C continues to be able to do this because I think this is a fantastic experience, and this is something we don’t learn at all when it comes to simulation,” Lunz added. “I've learned a lot and I think am going to benefit a lot from this experience.”

The opportunity to work alongside students from other healthcare disciplines was also a bonus for medical students, Nicholas added.

“So far we haven’t had a lot of interaction with the nursing students, so it's been great to see their perspective on things, as well as the physiotherapists, and get an idea of the people we're going to be working with in the future.”

Brooks Mayor, Barry Morishita, welcomed students on Saturday morning, and addressed participants at an evening community dinner at the Brooks Hotel, where students mingled with young professionals from Brooks and area. Morishita is excited about the exposure the Medical Skills event will bring to the community, and to rural medicine as a career option.

“RPAP has made the effort to bring these students out here in all those disciplines, and experience a different place, just so they can talk about it. I think it's [about] educating them about the area, making the effort to tell people the stories that are out here. I think if we get that out, it would be great, and I think our recruitment will just continue to get better and better.”

To learn more about Medical Skills events, visit www.rpap.ab.ca/skillsweekends.

RPAP | Health Workforce for Alberta is an independent, not-for-profit company funded by the Alberta Ministry of Health. Established in 1991 by the Government of Alberta, RPAP supports the ongoing efforts of Alberta’s rural physicians, their families and communities to improve the quality of rural health care.


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