In an attempt to lure away med students from Winnipeg and into the rural areas of the province, Prairie Mountain Health hosted a workshop at Brandon’s Regional Health Centre to discuss the upsides of working in smaller communities.
First- and second-year University of Manitoba students enrolled in the Medical Student Rural Interest Group — who still haven’t had much hospital experience, if any — learned some routine procedures at the Brandon hospital on Saturday.
In its third year, the workshops included casting a broken arm, completing a biopsy with ultrasound machines, and taking a biopsy and learning how to stitch it up, which was demonstrated on samples of pig skin.
This year, 48 students from the U of M faculty of medicine made the trip including second-year med student and Brandon native Kelby Treloar, who has her eyes set on working in a rural area after obtaining a medical degree.
"I’d like to come back and practise here or in a rural area similar to Brandon," she said. "I think you just have so much more control over your practice, in Winnipeg you’re vying with 20 other physicians in a big practice, but you’re kind of your own boss out here."
Aside from tempting potential docs out of Winnipeg, the workshops gave the future doctors a chance to try their hand at a number of procedures, something Treloar said is a sort of head-start many other students don’t take advantage of.
"As a second-year med student, we don’t get any experience suturing or casting and we don’t get to touch the machines that do biopsies," she said.
Dr. Wayne Harrison, who led the students in the ultrasound guided biopsy workshop, said this weekend was the first time many of the U of M students have even seen the machine.
"They love it," he said. "It’s nice for them to be actually doing clinical medicine … these weekends are not only about getting out of Winnipeg, but to see things that have to do with patient care, and not just textbooks and lectures."
Although Brandon’s need for doctors isn’t dire, it could always use more specialists. But the outlying communities, like everywhere else in the country, do have a serious need, and Harrison said programs like this are important.
Harrison said working in a big urban centre has drawbacks and Brandon is a good mid-size city for new doctors to start a career.
"Brandon is just the size where you can be a specialist … but not have to be in a big centre," Harrison said.
"There’s more politics being in a bigger hospital, like any big organization."
The province has been pushing to get more doctors to Manitoba’s rural areas as of late and six new rural residencies were created last year, including two in Brandon.