Twenty-five, University of Alberta first-year healthcare professionals will attend a Medical Skills Weekend in McLennan, March 18, 19 and 20.
The aim of inviting the students, who are studying to be physicians, nurses and paramedics, is to introduce them to the realities of practicing in a rural environment and to provide them with a firsthand frame of reference to working and living in the North.
“The reality of the North is that healthcare professionals must have a more comprehensive approach to medicine, compared to an urban situation where there is more room to specialize,” says Myrna Lanctot, Mayor of Donnelly and coordinator with the Smoky River Regional Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee.
During the three-day visit, the students will participate in medical procedure workshops at McLennan Hospital. The workshops consist of IV Starts, Surgical Suturing and Spine Immobilization. Registered nurses, a physician, EMTs and a physiotherapist who all practice locally will lead the workshops.
There is also a Stars Trauma workshop, which Stars will be coming in to instruct.
In other regions such as La Crete, the outcome of these Medical Skills Weekends is that after graduation those who have participated may elect to live and practice in a rural environment, which otherwise they may not, not having any experience and simply not given the idea much consideration.
To that end, the committee will also host an evening event and bring in some community members to speak to the group about the advantages such as the quality of life when living and working in a rural environment.
“We are planning to host an evening event and bring in some of the community members to speak about what it is like being in a rural area, the friendliness and openness of the area and hopefully share a part of this experience with them,” says Lanctot.
The weekend will begin with a welcome gathering to introduce and orientate the students and at that time to present them with welcome bags. Business and individuals in the community are invited to contribute items for the welcome bags.
The Medical Skills Weekend three-day event is coordinated and hosted by the Smoky River Regional Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee, and primarily funded by the Rural Physician Action Plan.