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May 27, 2022

Discovery Week and the Rural Ontario Medical Program engage medical students to consider rural medicine

medical students kayaking

Students enjoy one of the many outdoor activities that make living in the area so attractive — a paddle tour on the Beaver River.


On May 26, the Joint Municipal Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee (JMPRRC) hosted eleven medical students from the Rural Ontario Medical Program (ROMP) and four first-year medical students from Western University.

The students were given a guided scenic paddle tour by Free Spirit Tours in Heathcote of the Beaver River and visited the Thornbury Cidery and the Bruce Wine Bar in Thornbury during the activities coordinated by the Joint Municipal Physician Recruitment and Retention Committee (JMPRRC). Committee Chair June Porter and Grey Highlands Councillor Allwood hosted the students. The JMPRRC is a joint committee comprised of the Municipality of Grey Highlands, the Town of Blue Mountains, the Township of Clearview and the Town of Collingwood.

“We are excited for the opportunity to host young medical students in our community,” says Town of Blue Mountains Mayor Alar Soever. “Our communities have so much to offer and the students were exposed to some great experiences this week that truly highlight what rural regions can offer.”

The Rural Ontario Medical Program (ROMP) coordinates medical rotations for future physicians from the six medical universities in Ontario. With a mission to alleviate the burden on communities caused by the nationwide physician distribution problem and create learning opportunities outside the academic centres and into communities.

medical students have a lunch break

Discovery Week is a one-week placement at the end of the first year for all undergraduate medical students at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry. Students shadow physicians and healthcare professionals to learn what their typical workday encompasses; network with the various healthcare teams; and experience rural and regional living in their placement communities.

Research has shown that one factor that increases the likelihood of a family physicians choosing to practice in rural and remote communities is a positive exposure to rural practice in medical school.

“We will continue to work with our community partners to find ways to appeal to physicians and make our region where they build their practices,” says Municipality of Grey Highlands Mayor Paul McQueen. “Our communities are a great place to raise a family and have lots of recreational opportunities. We continue to see growth and our healthcare access and services need to reflect that.”

There are approximately 17,000 residents in the region that are not rostered to a family physician. This means they do not have access to a Family Physician and rely on walk-in or after-hour clinics and emergency departments for their primary health care needs.

“The need for family physicians is at a very critical point,” says JMPRRC Chair June Porter. “It is activities such as Discovery Week and programs such as the Rural Ontario Medical Program that provide opportunities for our communities to showcase their unique culture, lifestyle and environment to engage and attract new physicians.”

 


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