Once again, a near full slate of first-year medical students from the University of Manitoba’s (U of M) Max Rady College of Medicine (Rady Faculty of Health Sciences) participated in ‘Rural Week’ within Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) region (May 30 - June 4). During the last two years, the COVID pandemic has limited both the number of students participating in health facilities as well as normally scheduled community activities.
Rural Week— coordinated annually by the Department of Family Medicine, Shared Health (Manitoba HealthCare Providers Network) and rural regional health authorities —provides medical students with an opportunity to gain first-hand experience of how rural and northern Manitoba medical practices function. It also promotes the many benefits of working and living in a rural/northern Manitoba area.
Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) was an active partner throughout the week— with 27 medical students assigned to 9 communities. Communities participating this year included Brandon, Dauphin, Hamiota, Killarney, Minnedosa, Neepawa, Russell, Ste. Rose and Swan River.
Students participated in a variety of rural physician practices, and in most cases, tagged along with a ‘doc’ to see how their patient days unfolded. However, the students received some assignments that allowed them to explore communities on their own.
“We always look forward to opportunities that allow us to highlight medical facilities, sites and communities within the health region in the hopes that some of the medical students eventually select to live and work in rural Manitoba,” stated Michelle McKay, Director of Health Services, Primary Care.
Manitoba HealthCare Providers Network project coordinator Ashley Shaw added that based on yearly student evaluations, the initiative remains overwhelmingly positive and one students highly anticipate.
“For students from an ‘urban-origin’ this may be their first real experience with rural life. For those from rural areas, it’s a chance to reinforce the positive aspects of rural life and to connect them to medical professionals that have chosen to practice rurally,” Shaw said.
Both McKay and Shaw sincerely appreciate the efforts of all of the physician preceptors, health-care professionals and community volunteers that help to ensure Rural Week succeeds.
Rural Week, as part of the U of M medical 1 curriculum, first started as an optional experience in 2003 and was approved as a mandatory component the following year.