September 2, 2014 12:32 pm

Medical students experience practising in rural Saskatchewan

Medical students at the University of Saskatchewan spend the summer learning about practising at rural locations in the province.

.The Canadian Press Images/Bayne Stanley

SASKATOON – Medical students at the University of Saskatchewan spent the summer experiencing medicine in rural and remote locations in the province.

Saskdocs said 40 students took part in PREP – its rural externship program – to learn more about practising in rural Saskatchewan.

During the summer, the students shadowed doctors in 24 communities, gaining valuable experience to help them make choices on where to work and what type of medicine to practice.

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According to saskdocs, the earlier a medical student is exposed to a community, the more likely they will practice in the same location when they graduate.

“An informal survey conducted by saskdocs of past PREP participants indicated that close to 90 per cent of them would consider practicing in the communities in which they were placed,” said Erin Brady, interim CEO of saskdocs.

It’s a program supported by the Saskatchewan Medical Association.

“We know that early and continued exposure to rural practice will lead to more graduate establishing themselves in a rural community,” said SMA president Dr. Dalior Slavik.

“The Roadmap Program and PREP will lay the foundation for better care for rural patients in the years to come.”

The Saskatchewan government hopes the program will keep the students in the province once they graduate.

“We want these bright young minds to stay, contribute to our growing province and help us build an exceptional, patient-first health care system,” said Tim McMillan, the minister responsible for rural and remote health.

It’s a vision shared by sasdocs.

“Recruiting and retaining our U of S medical graduates is our number one priority,” said Brady.

The 40 students are now back in class for their third year of study.

Since the program’s inception in 2011, 114 U of S medical students have participated in PREP.

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