It's no secret, more doctors are needed to meet the growing population in the Pembina Valley. Visits like the Rural Interest Group brought thirty first- and second-year medical students from the University of Manitoba for a day of hands-on experience and for the first time during one of these visits. According to Menzies Medical Centre Executive Director Nicole Walske, a diverse panel of doctors from Menzies and C.W. Wiebe Medical Centres, serving Boundary Trails Health Centre, sat down with students to share their own experiences and opportunities with the future doctors, answering their questions, in hopes of attracting them to the area. The three organizations partnered with Southern Health-Santé Sud for one of the stops on the tour throughout the rural areas in Manitoba. 

Walske said they often hear on these visits, students weren't aware of all the aspects of care BTHC provides like dialysis, chemotherapy, surgical suits and other diverse opportunities they can practice as rural family physicians.  

"I recently had a conversation with one of our current residents who told me that after her visit to the Rural Interest Group, that is what triggered her love for rural medicine and made her apply for our residency program here and she's just working on finishing her residency and we're hopeful that she'll stay on as one of our physicians. So, we know that the impact of this Rural Interest Group visit does have lasting effects because once people are here and can see the collaborative nature of our team and our wonderful facilities, they often want to return." 

Menzies Medical Centre Executive Director Nicole Walske presenting to RIG students.Menzies Medical Centre Executive Director Nicole Walske presenting to RIG students.

She also was pleased to have three of the thirty students from the Morden area part of the group, giving them a behind-the-scenes look at their hometown medical services.   

"Oh, absolutely. If they're homegrown, they often know what they're getting into and so the retention is often greater. We have some physicians currently with us that were born and raised in this area and have practiced here now for many years. And those physicians will speak to the wonderful culture of our community and our healthcare system and the collaborative nature of our clinic. And so, those are key conversations to have with these visitors to help them understand the benefits of a group practice versus a small stand-alone practice."  

Dr. Leanne Nause was part of the day, running a station on Women's Health with two residents and taking part in the panel.  

"What I saw from the students was a very engaged, enthusiastic group. They were asking really good questions and their experience ranged, some grew up rural, I think some people, this was some of their first experiences rural. I think we wanted them to come out and have fun. I was part of a group like this when I was a medical student and this is 20 years later now, and I'm still enjoying my rural roots here." 

Questions about rural life and the increased opportunities as a result of the BTHC expansion.  

Dr Leanne Nause lead a session on Women's Health for RIG students.Dr Leanne Nause lead a session on Women's Health for RIG students.

Along with giving them some hands-on experiences with local doctors and answering their question, Nause said there was another goal for the day.  

"I think we are hoping they make some memories, that it drives them back to us, that they can come in the learning capacity and our working capacity. Exposure to the different types of medicine is important so that they know that there's everything from family physicians to surgeons to obstetricians, pediatricians, radiologists. There's just a wide experience to be had. A lot of us love the variety that rural medicine provides."  

Students will have the opportunity for summer work for the "Home for the Summer" student program and in the future to be matched for their residency after year four of medical school, according to Walske.  

Nause shared her favourite part.  

"I was most excited about the potential of having more interactions with some of these students. Right away, one of them came and said, "I'd really like to come and work with you or shadow you." That is what you're hoping for, going back and doing these sessions and working with students that are eager and happy about this. It rekindles the flame that I have for doing this and I enjoy teaching, but it's just nice to be reminded of what was there initially. What did we, as rural practitioners, love about coming out here? When you have to tell someone else it reminds you."   

Dr Cornie Woelk led a session for RIG students.Dr Cornie Woelk led a session for RIG students.

She appreciated all the hard work to put the day on and to prepare for the important day and thanked her colleagues for working together for such a good day. 

Walske also thanked Southern Health-Santé Sud for partnering with the clinics and BTHC to put the day on and she also thanked the physicians for taking time to put on these valuable sessions and to take part in the panel to share their passion for rural medicine. 

Dr Don Klassen led a session for RIG students.Dr Don Klassen led a session for RIG students.