Outside the Box
Award-winning program allows medical students to discover rural/regional medicine and lifestyle
London On Monday, May 31st, first-year medical student Julie Lebert will be heading to the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance to have her first real experience with patients as part of “Discovery Week”. She and her classmates from the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at The University of Western Ontario will spend four days in hospitals and health care centres in 32 communities in Southwestern Ontario, observing physicians, and in some cases, actively participating in patient care. Lebert says the week is the highlight of the first-year medical program, and she’s looking forward to leaving lecture theatres behind. “You learn everything, but you don’t get to do much. You don’t see a lot of people really doing medicine. “
“Discovery Week is an opportunity for medical students to experience life and medicine in rural areas,” says Dr. Shamin Tejpar, the Assistant Dean of Rural and Regional Medicine. “The students will see that working in a community hospital is a lot different than in a university teaching hospital, and they’ll see the vital role of community health centres. They may find this is the life they want after graduation.” Dr. Tejpar speaks from experience. She’s been in Stratford for 22 years and says there’s nowhere else she’d rather be.
The community partners also see this week as a recruiting opportunity for future physicians, so they showcase all their area has to offer whether it’s boating, theatre, or dining out. As well, some of the Schulich students will be visiting local high schools to answer students’ questions about getting into medical school.
Last year, Discovery Week was awarded the Silver Prix D’Excellence Award from the Canadian Council for the Advancement of Education for best community outreach program.