Congratulations to Sarah Walton, one of four recipients of the RhPAP 2020 Rural Medical School Award. Each student receives $5,000 to assist with their studies toward rural practice.
Walton grew up in Rocky Mountain House. Her first degree was in nursing and she went on to practise nursing for three years at the Rocky Mountain Health Centre.
During that time, she decided she wanted to be a physician.
I think [rural practice] inevitably leads to more growth and confidence as a practitioner – Sarah Walton, first year medical student
Today, Walton is in first year medicine at University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine.
She knows from her nursing experience that rural practise has its special challenges, but she looks forward to embracing those challenges in her future role as a rural physician.
“In a rural environment like Rocky, you are the [Neo-natal Intensive Care Unit] team, you are the [respiratory therapist], you are everything. So, although this can be daunting, I think this inevitably leads to more growth and confidence as a practitioner.”
Walton enjoys the rural lifestyle, especially in Rocky Mountain House, which has so many outdoor opportunities.
“I do love that I know people in the town. I know people when I go outside. I run into old teachers at the grocery store. Obviously, that sense of community and that sense of belonging, [are always there in a small town], whereas if you move on from a city, I think you feel that it moves along without you.”
“In a small town, there’s that nostalgia, there’s that feeling that you do belong there.”
Walton hopes to do a significant portion of her clerkship and residency in rural areas, including Rocky Mountain House.