When you have a sneak-peek into what the future of health care looks like in small town Alberta, you can’t help but feel confident. That’s a feeling a left my office with every day for almost five years.
Prior to working as a freelance writer for RhPAP, I worked as the administrator for the University of Calgary’s rural family medicine residency program at their Lethbridge site, a program supported for many years by RPAP. I supported the program, but more importantly, I supported the residents of the program as they transitioned from medical student to practicing physician.
Smaller communities welcome you like an old family friend. They open their homes and their hearts to you without so much as a second thought. You’re one of them and they treat their own with respect, compassion, and kindness.
During their residency, these bright and personable people would pack all of their worldly possessions into their car and move to small communities across southern Alberta for months on end. Leaving families and homes behind, they’d finish a call shift and have to be in a new town, hundreds of kilometers away, the next day.
A new town, a new hospital, new colleagues, and new challenges. Exciting but daunting tasks and they are repeated every few months when they move onto their next rotation. Add to that, the enormous study load, staying connected with loved ones, plus keeping yourself from becoming isolated, and these are just a few of the realities for a rural resident.
So why choose a career path that throws you so much adversity early on? Every time I asked this question of the residents, I was given this answer: The communities. Smaller communities welcome you like an old family friend. They open their homes and their hearts to you without so much as a second thought. You’re one of them and they treat their own with respect, compassion, and kindness.
Why choose a career path that throws you so much adversity early on?
A ‘good’ rotation in a small town can have a profound effect on a health professional in training. It can be the reason they choose to practice rurally. It can be the moment they decide to pursue a particular specialty or work with a specific population.
So what makes a ‘good’ rotation? It could be a caring glance during a difficult patient encounter, an invitation for coffee after a shift, or even a brief hallway chat to check in with a learner after a busy morning. Rural communities seem to do these simple acts of compassion readily and without hesitation.
I’d like to say thank you to those small towns and communities across Alberta who continue to welcome medical students, nursing students, and residents to their ranks. It may not be your town these future health-care professionals settle in, but because of your willingness to teach and nurture, another community will benefit from the simple acts of kindness you shared with that learner.
- Meagan Williams, RhPAP Freelancer