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Reflections from Melfort

Six weeks in Melfort has led to an understanding of the work a rural family doctors does

As my time in Melfort comes to an end, I’m reflecting on all that I’ve learned so far.

I’ve learned so much from the doctors I’ve worked with, but also just from being in the hospital and the clinic fulltime. It’s nice to know some basics like what it means to round on inpatients, how to write a decent SOAP note, or how to use an EMR to order labs and renew prescriptions. I was lucky enough to get to work with two different doctors - and I have to say that the two of them had different styles - but it was good to get to experience both.

The first doctor I worked with is incredibly organized and efficient. She is always ready for the day’s duties and I think that her superb organization enables her to focus on the patient and what they’re telling her instead of trying to remember what’s been going on and what needs to be done. With her, the days always feel like they go smoothly because she is always prepared and ready for whoever is coming through the door. The other thing I admire about her is how well she knows all of her patients and how invested she is. She not only knows her patients’ stories in a medical context, but a personal one too and I think that’s pretty special.

The second doctor I worked with has the gift of being incredibly calm no matter what’s happening. I saw him handle sepsis, violent patients, and everything in between with a level of calm that was seriously impressive. I think that’s such an essential quality to develop as a physician. When you think about it, no situation is ever made better when someone who is supposed to be in charge and making key decisions loses their cool. To break it down to an elementary math equation: calm mind + clear head = quick, logical decision-making. Sometimes it’s easy to get caught up in the action and to feel wound-up just due to your surroundings, but staying calm and collected despite all else is something that this doctor has definitely mastered.

Aside from learning from each doctor I worked with, I also got to learn a lot about family medicine as a specialty. Being immersed in it for six weeks, I feel that I’ve gotten a pretty good idea of what it’s like to be a rural family physician. There are a lot of things I love about family practice. I love that you get to know each of your patients, that you get to deliver babies then continue to care for them as they grow up, and that you get to manage a wide variety of conditions from the everyday quick and easy things to the more chronic things that require some serious planning and attention to detail. The family doctors here in Melfort have such an incredible scope of practice. On any given day they might be working in the OR, the ER, the clinic, or a mix of all three. Personally, I loved having some variety within the work week. Getting to do a bit of everything is a great way to stay sharp!

Speaking of getting to do a bit of everything, I am pretty pumped about the amount of hands-on experience I got over the course of six weeks! The doctors and patients were incredibly open to me doing things for the first time and learning as I went. One of the most common things I heard from patients was “you have to learn somehow!” and they’re right. I think I speak for a lot of students when I say that patients who are willing to work with students so that we can learn from experience are very much appreciated and so much better than any textbook or YouTube video out there.

Though I’m happy to be back home, I will miss the people in Melfort. I got to work with and get to know some incredible people and I will not forget them and what they taught me as I move forward.
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