September 26, 2018 • 0 Comments

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Article and video by Britton Ledingham 

Over 50 University of Alberta health-care students experienced Rimbey’s first-ever skills weekend on August 25 and 26. 

The medical, nursing, and physiotherapy students were given an action-packed Rimbey experience, hosted by the Rimbey and Area Attraction and Retention Committee, and sponsored by the Rural Health Professions Action Plan. 

“It was a great opportunity to showcase what we have to offer,” said Paul McLauchlin, Ponoka County reeve. “Rural Alberta is alive and well and it’s doing great, and [it’s] a good place to live and to work.” 

On Saturday morning, the busload of University of Alberta students arrived to a warm welcome at the Rimbey Hospital and Care Centre, 140 kilometres southwest of Edmonton. Here local doctors, nurses, and physiotherapists instructed students at six skills stations, with participants trying their hand at IV starts, suturing, casting, ultrasound, physiotherapy, and a mock-emergency response with STARS in a mobile station. 

After an intensive day of skills training, students were treated to dinner, music, and dancing at  Tumbler Field’s Farm, owned by the McLauchlins. The festivities carried on late into the night with a dance at the Peter Lougheed Community Centre, part of the annual Rock'n Rimbey weekend. 

The following morning, students enjoyed a continental breakfast at the Best Western Rimstone Ridge hotel before heading off for a leisurely tour of Pas Ka Poo Museum and Park, and a track-side barbeque lunch while watching passes at Central Alberta Raceways. 

Dr. Cian Hackett helped lead the casting station. The recent graduate never took part in a skills weekend, but fell in love with Rimbey through placement while training.  

“I remember these skills days when I was a student,” said Dr. Hackett. “People would come back and just rave about how good they were. It was awesome to capture that enthusiasm.” 

Dr. Kristen Rylance grew up in the area and is a strong advocate for rural health care. She is now raising her own family in Rimbey. 

“I think it’s an area where there’s a ton of need,” said Dr. Rylance, who was also an instructor at the ultrasound station. “Really for any health-care professional, it just tends to be a lot more exciting than you would find, and you’re less pigeon-holed.” 

Jamie Hudson, a UofA Faculty of Nursing after-degree program student, took part because she wanted to see what Rimbey had to offer for health-care professionals. 

“It was really cute getting to see all the community come together,” said Hudson, who enjoyed the horseback riding demonstration by 2018 Rimbey Rodeo royalty princess Jamie Davies and queen Kaylee Shanty, and live music by the Shady Mavis band at Tumbler Field’s Farm on Saturday night. 

David Edgeworth, U of A Faculty of Medicine second-year student, grew up in north-western Alberta, and wants to practice rurally. He was impressed with the diversity of health care provided in the community of 2,500 people. 

“It’s definitely a place I’ll be thinking of in the future,” said Edgeworth. “I think my favourite portion would have been the dinner that we had out in the riding arena. To me, that was just like being at home.” 

Bryce Snow, a second-year physiotherapy student, said he envisioned working in the city, but saw the town has all the amenities he wants. 

“I could definitely see the lifestyle attracting me,” said Snow. 

BusolaAbolarin, a 36-year-old Faculty of Nursing after-degree program student from Ponoka, aims to continue raising her family in Ponoka. She encourages other students to try skills weekend events in rural Alberta. 

“I will always tell them to give it a try,” said Abolarin. “It’s worth it and they don’t have anything to lose.” 

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