Medical students eager to learn
Two third-year medical students of the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) are settling into life in Fort Frances after arriving here late last month, and they will be living and learning here as they complete their 30-week comprehensive community clerkships.
Catherine McGuire, who is originally from the Nipigon-Red Rock area, and Suzanne Girard, of Kenora, have only good things to say about the community and local medical facilities.
“It’s a very beautiful area,” echoed Girard.
The students were treated to a tour of the town by Coun. Andrew Hallikas, visiting Rainycrest, Pither’s Point Park, Fort Frances High School, and Resolute Forest Products kraft mill—just to name a few.
They added the medical facilities “looked new” and they are both happy to be learning in a smaller hospital.
“It’s nice because everyone knows who we are and are really helpful,” Girard voiced, citing she’s excited to have more opportunity to learn hands-on.
“The physicians have been very keen to teach,” she noted. “Some have even offered to do additional teaching sessions, which is very generous.”
They are both very keen and eager to learn. While they are expected to be on-call one week each month, they have indicated they would welcome calls anytime.
“It’s the only way to learn—to actually have a patient to apply what we’ve learned,” McGuire voiced. “It sticks a lot better.”
McGuire, who had a one-month stint at the Emo Clinic last year, selected Fort Frances as her first choice for her clerkship, noting she is an avid angler and hunter.
While Fort Frances was Girard’s second choice, she is happy with her placement.
“I hadn’t heard as much about Fort Frances when we made our choices, but . . . I’m glad it worked out this way,” she expressed.
They feel they will have more opportunities to learn while in Fort Frances than in a larger centre.
“Patients aren’t a number. You get to know them,” McGuire said, citing there is a continuity of care and are able to follow their patients’ progress.
Both students are leaning towards family medicine as their future career goal.
“We haven’t been exposed to every kind of medicine yet, but with family medicine you get a little bit of everything,” Girard noted.
“This is the first time that the students are spending the majority of their training in a clinical setting,” explained Dr. Jason Shack.
“Specifically, here, the students spend time with each of the doctors but also with the other professionals in the hospital, as well as other allied health professionals in the community,” he noted, citing the placement provides a well-rounded exposure to medicine for the students.
He indicated having the medical students each year keeps the local physicians up-to-date and challenges them.
“The patients seem to enjoy having a new face to talk with and the local patients are always trying to recruit the students,” he added.
Both Girard and McGuire noted the challenge with any placement is balancing school with their clinical work.
While hands-on learning in the hospital is important, the students also continue taking classes by videoconference and online lectures.
“I guess they are preparing us because as a doctor we will put in some pretty long hours,” Girard chuckled.
But despite all the hard work, the pair are enjoying their time in Fort Frances so far.
Even McGuire’s son, Devan, who relocated here with her, is settling in and enjoying Fort High.
“It’s something different everyday and there’s a rewarding sense you feel knowing you are helping people,” McGuire expressed.
They stressed the physicians, nurses, and patients have all been wonderful so far.
“They’ve been very patient with us and it’s very generous of them to let us try stuff,” Girard noted.
“They realize it is an important goal for us,” McGuire echoed. “And everyone has been very accommodating in helping us to learn.”