Future healthcare professionals received a first-hand glimpse at both rural medicine and lifestyle at RPAP's latest Medical Skills Event.
The RPAP event, hosted by Drayton Valley on 24-25 October 2015, was held in partnership with the Pembina Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee, local medical professionals and Drayton Valley Hospital and Care Centre.
Nearly 60 students, including medical students from the RPAP-supported Rural Medical Interest Group of the University of Calgary, nursing students from Mount Royal University, Respiratory Therapy students from SAIT, and physiotherapy students from the University of Alberta, came from across the province for the event.
"The more we can educate students at an early stage, the more opportunity we have to be successful in recruiting future rural physicians," says Drayton Valley Doctor Michael Peyton who also led the suturing workshop. "A lot of times [students] don't have as much information about what's available in rural communities ... and we feel that this is a good opportunity to expand their knowledge."
Kathy Howe, ASH Area Director, comments that what is really impressive is the students' "enthusiasm and their commitment to getting it right." She says that for the students, "it's not about [just] working their way through the station it's really about learning it and that desire to know; it's exciting to be part of that."
First time hosts, the Drayton Valley Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee, view skills events like this as being mutually beneficial.
"It's been really positive to see how encouraged and enthusiastic [the students]. It's been good for our staff as well as the students because they get to share that enthusiasm," says Fayrell Wheeler who is a town councillor and vice-chair of the retention committee, which already recruited three physicians during its four year history.
Amanda, a first year medical student, explains the benefits of being exposed to both rural and urban medicine. She says that "being at a med school in a big city, you see the tertiary facilities, the big hospitals and that's all you see. So getting to see the medicine on the smaller, [more] people [oriented] side is nice."
In addition to teaching students basic medical skills, Skills Weekends are valuable opportunities for rural Alberta communities to showcase local amenities to students in healthcare disciplines. Volunteers in Drayton Valley treated students to a community dinner and social evening with local professionals on Saturday evening; as well as a tour of town, and Jaws of Life simulation involving local emergency responders, on Sunday.
"It's important that physicians who are considering Drayton Valley know that they're not alone here that they're supported by a wide range of committed health care professionals that want to see patient care at it's very best," says Drayton Valley Mayor Glenn Mclean.
Lauren, another first year medical student at the University of Calgary, agrees. She is drawn to rural medicine by the idea of "being part of a community, having that community support, and having variety in your practice."
Skills Weekends, sponsored by RPAP | Health Workforce for Alberta, are arranged by the RPAP Medical Students' Initiative Coordinator and are scheduled throughout the year in rural Alberta communities.
To learn more about Medical Skills Weekends, see rpap.ab.ca/skillsweekends.