What can a U of S medical student expect practicing medicine in La Ronge?

When you talk physician recruitment and retention in Saskatchewan, and in Canada for that matter, the term “rural and remote” is often used, but what does it actually mean? In Saskatchewan places like Saskatoon and Regina and their outlying communities would not fall into this category, which begs the question, which ones would?

When you talk physician recruitment and retention in Saskatchewan, and in Canada for that matter, the term “rural and remote” is often used, but what does it actually mean? In Saskatchewan places like Saskatoon and Regina and their outlying communities would not fall into this category, which begs the question, which ones would?

What about a community that is at least a four hour drive from Saskatoon, situated on the shores of one of the province’s largest lakes and holds a diverse population with even more diverse health needs? It is safe to say such a community fits the criteria.

Such is the case with La Ronge; a remote community located in the province’s North. It is also the same community where three PREP (Physician Recruitment Agency of Saskatchewan’s Rural Externship Program) students will be experiencing rural medicine this summer.

Cheyanne Vetter is one of those students. Cheyanne (Class of 2017) wants nothing more than to experience medicine outside of a major hospital or acute care centre.

“I chose La Ronge because of its exceptional reputation as a medical learning center in Saskatchewan. Through word of mouth and within the student body I have heard excellent things about La Ronge; everyone reports that the preceptors are excellent the community is friendly, and the volume of patients is ideal for learning. Another reason I chose La Ronge is because it is a northern Saskatchewan community with ample opportunity to fish, hike, and kayak in the summer time.”

Cheyanne will be closely watching, and following practicing physicians who work at the La Ronge Medical Clinic to learn more about medicine in rural and remote places like La Ronge. She’ll be in good company as there are many other medical students wanting to experience the same thing through PREP 2015. The success of this unique program continues to grow. saskdocs, participating health regions, the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) and U of S College of Medicine launched the ’15 program in November of last year.  Since that time, 48 students have applied to experience and shadow practicing physicians in our rural and remote communities. All of these students will do their externships over the summer. Cheyanne will finish hers in July, with colleagues joining her in June and July; and, one other student heading to Ile-a-la Crosse for the entire month of June.

In terms of PREP placements in Saskatchewan’s North, there is one single agency that makes it all happen – Northern Medical Services (NMS) a Division of the Department of Academic Family Medicine, College of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan. saskdocs and its partners work closely with NMS as it is a key player in ensuring that PREP students interested in experiencing northern medical practices over the summer have a shadowing physician, a practice to go to and a place to stay while they are there.

Cheyanne is ready for the challenge and expects to learn a lot about medicine and the community:

“I anticipate the community will be like any community in Northern Saskatchewan- full of friendly people and mosquitoes! I really hope that I can enjoy the natural beauty of the area. I am a bit of an outdoorswoman and have been missing being outside while we are in classes all year long. I plan on taking with me my tackle box, kayak, and golf clubs. I hope to connect with people and share the rural experiences so that I can take this experience and apply it to future learning opportunities.”

Now that we know a little bit more about what Cheyanne can expect this summer in La Ronge we look forward to hearing more about her externship later this fall.  Kudos to NMS, the SMA, health regions, the College of Medicine and  all the program partners for once again making PREP a reality and for its continued and growing success.

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