Discovery week introduces medical students to rural practice in Huron Perth

(Photo courtesy of © Can Stock Photo Inc. / jirsak)

28 first-year medical students from Schulich Medicine & Dentistry shadowed physicians at the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance facilities in Huron and Perth counties last week as part of the annual Discovery Week.

Research has shown that if a medical student has grown up in an urban community and goes to medical school in an urban community, the chances of them deciding to practice medicine in a rural community, without ever spent time in one, are pretty slim. But the hope is that even one week of exposure to medicine in a rural community might, at least encourage some medical students to consider a rural practice. Jonathan Hamilton has just completed his first year at Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, in London. He grew up in the Ottawa area and he’s been very pleasantly surprised by the reception they’ve received at the clinic and around the town of Clinton. He says everybody’s asking them about their day, as soon as they learn that they’re medical students, they’re extremely welcoming and they’re excited to have them and they want to know more about where they’re from, what they’re excited to do and he says it’s really been a privilege to get to know the community better and even outside of the clinic.

Hamilton says there are definitely differences between an urban and rural practice, but he’s already seeing some of the advantages to a rural practice. He’s noticed being in a rural community gives you time to spend, it gives you, kind of, a breadth of practice that you don’t really get in other places and also it allows you to, kind of, connect more and be a little bit more focused on, the kind, of social community aspect of medicine, as opposed to maybe doing the same thing or the same procedure every day.”

Hamilton says he’s also noticed the relationships between doctors and patient, particularly if the doctor has been in the community for some time and they know they patient and their family and maybe even their parents, so he feels that’s a very special relationship.

Hamilton still has a long way to go before deciding where he wants to practice, but he says, this Discovery Week, has definitely opened his eyes to something he would not have otherwise even considered.