Friday, 28 October 2016 05:00

Medical students visit Swift Current to learn about rural practice

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Dr. Nicole Heintz, a second-year family medicine resident in Swift Current, gives advice to students on how to remove a cast during a casting clinic, which was one of five rotating sessions during the SMA Roadmap Program visit to Swift Current, Oct. 22. Dr. Nicole Heintz, a second-year family medicine resident in Swift Current, gives advice to students on how to remove a cast during a casting clinic, which was one of five rotating sessions during the SMA Roadmap Program visit to Swift Current, Oct. 22.

Medical students had an opportunity to learn more about practising medicine in a rural setting during a day-long visit to Swift Current, Oct. 22.


The 44 University of Saskatchewan students from Regina and Saskatoon participated in the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) Roadmap Program, an initiative that exposes students to the benefits of practising in smaller centres.
Dr. Kevin Wasko, the president of the Cypress Regional Medical Association, said the group of students were  enthusiastic.
“I think they have been impressed by what we’ve offered in terms of learning opportunities, and also by our facilities and our residents and our physicians who have been here,” he mentioned.
The students were hosted by local physicians and family medicine residents at the Cypress Regional Hospital. They had rotating sessions during the morning. Each 30-minute session gave them an opportunity to focus on different skills and to apply their knowledge.
There were casting and suturing clinics, and they learned more about the use of a vacuum pump and forceps during assisted delivery in the obstetrical skills clinic.
During two simulation lab sessions they had to examine  life-size medical mannequins and diagnose their medical symptoms.
In the afternoon, the students had a question and answer session with local family medicine residents and they toured the hospital as well as the city.
For Palak Suryavanshi, a second-year student in Regina, it was an eye-opening experience to visit the Cypress Regional Hospital.
“I was utterly shocked,” she said. “It’s a very beautiful facility. You come in with this bright big windows. It gives me a different perspective, because I didn’t expect it to be this way. When you think about rural towns you think about smaller facilities. When you come in, this is like a giant foyer, and it’s beautiful.”
She enjoyed the learning experience during the five rotating sessions in the morning.
“They were wonderful,” she said. “You learn a lot from them. It’s these extra bits of knowledge that makes you a better student, a student that is curious to learn. It’s these pieces that make you interested in why we are here and it just ties everything together again to realize this is what you want to do.”
She appreciated the discussion with local family residents, who spoke about their lifestyle and experiences in Swift Current. She felt the tour provided useful information to help her with the decision on where to practise after her training.
“I already know that I want to practise within Saskatchewan,” she said. “However, where in Saskatchewan is a different question, but coming on trips like these, seeing what’s out there, opens my mind more to it.”
Dave Cazakoff, a fourth-year medical student, has participated in previous Roadmap Program tours to different communities, including Watrous, Rosetown and Melfort.
“We flew to Île-à-la-Crosse in my second year, which was a wonderful experience,” he said. “Now in my clinical time, I’m preparing to apply for residency placement and for CaRMS (Canadian Resident Matching Service). So I’ve been too busy to attend some of the other events, but I felt this one was particularly interesting because it showcases a residency site, and Swift Current seems to have a lot to offer as far as a new program, a lot of young, very engaging doctors.”
He participated in the rotating sessions, where he practised suturing again and did hands-on learning during the obstetrical skills clinic.
“I’ve never had any training on forceps delivery for obstetrical skills,” he said. “Whenever you go to any sort of training there’s always something new to take home.”
He grew up on a farm near Pelly in eastern Saskatchewan and he wants to practise medicine in a rural area. He felt the tour to Swift Current was a useful experience to assist him with the decision on residency.
“I would say having seen the community and this type of a learning session and a tour really helps to see what exactly would be available, and what it would be like to train here, if I choose to pursue residency here,” he said.
According to Dr. Wasko, this was the second time he SMA Roadmap Program brought students to Swift Current. A previous tour took place two-and-a-half years ago.
“It garnered a lot of interest for our residency program,” he recalled. “I think it kind of put Swift Current on the map in terms of medical students knowing about Swift Current, and the type of practice you can have here and what life as a resident in the residents program is like too.”
Two of the students who came to Swift Current on that previous Roadmap tour are now first-year family medicine residents in the city.
Dr. Wasko grew up in Eastend.
He trained in the family medicine resident program in Swift Current who has been practising in the city for three years. He believes it is important to make medical students aware of the benefits of working outside the large urban centres.
“There is greater flexibility working here,” he said. “You can really tailor your practice. There’s the opportunity to work in the hospital and in the clinic. You can assist in the operating room, but you don’t have to. You can do long-term care, you don’t necessarily have to. You can do obstetrical care. You take care of everyone from cradle to grave, literally, and that’s rare in an urban centre.”

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Matthew Liebenberg

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