The next generation of Alberta’s healthcare professionals visited Bow Island recently to experience life and health care in a rural setting.
On October 25-26, more than 50 first year medical, nursing and physiotherapy students travelled to rural southeastern Alberta to participate in an RPAP Medical Skills Weekend. The Skills Weekend event was sponsored by RPAP | Health Workforce for Alberta; and was co-hosted by the local physician attraction and retention committee, and the municipalities of Bow Island, Foremost and the County of Forty Mile.
The students from the Universities of Calgary and Alberta, and Mount Royal University, learned essential skills—including suturing, intravenous initiation and intubation—from local health care professionals and members of the STARS Mobile Education Unit during the two day event.
According to RPAP’s Medical Students’ Initiative Coordinator, Rosemary Burness, Skills Weekends demonstrate to the students that they’re never alone in a rural healthcare setting.
“We’re giving them a sense of team,” said Burness. “At one of the big hospitals, you may not know the paramedics in the ER. Here these nurses, doctors, paramedics, physiotherapists and other health care practitioners know each other very well, they know what each other’s skills are and learn they’re all highly skilled people who can support each other.”
In addition to learning relevant medical skills, participants also toured the Shamrock Hutterite Colony, and were guests at a community supper on Saturday night, and a pancake breakfast the following morning.
Bow Island physician, Dr. Jerry Woodruff, helped plan the event and instructed suturing techniques. He said students were very interested learners and seemed to enjoy the experience.
“We wanted to give them exposure to rural medicine. Who knows whether one of them might want to come to Bow Island at some time in the future?”
First-year University of Calgary medical student, Carsten Krueger, was impressed with the welcome students received in Bow Island. He says the visit has him interested in pursuing more opportunities to experience rural medicine.
“I think when I go back to my studies, I’ll really take away from this how practical and hands-on everything is. I’m definitely going to take advantage of the things RPAP has to offer, and go out and shadow in as many rural places as I can.”
Photo: Students learn spinal immobilization techniques from Bow Island paramedics (RPAP / Jonathan Koch)