Med students looking forward to clerkships
Two third-year medical students at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine are eager to begin hands-on learning as they complete their 30-week Comprehensive Community Clerkships in Fort Frances starting this week.
While Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. has been accepting third-year NOSM students since 2007, this is the first time a local student has returned in this capacity.
Meanwhile, Robert Foulds, who was born in Thunder Bay but grew up in Nipigon, chose to do his clerkship in Fort Frances also due to it being relatively close to his hometown.
“And it’s really a beautiful community,” Foulds added, noting he arrived in town on the evening of Aug. 25 and has been getting settled in what will be his home for the next eight months.
Before beginning medical school in 2011, Keffer previous completed a B.A. in religion and culture while Foulds possesses a B.Sc in Human Kinetics from the University of Guelph and a research-based M.Sc in Kinesiology and Health Science from York.
“[Medicine] provides an opportunity to always keep on learning,” noted Keffer, who said he’s enjoyed his first two years of medical school.
“It’s keeps an importance on education.”
“And it’s great to be around other motivated people,” echoed Foulds, referring to his interest in becoming a physician.
“You challenge yourself and it’s a rewarding career each day,” he said.
Both are looking at pursuing rural family medicine and, as such, they feel their clerkships in Fort Frances will provide them with an excellent start in learning.
“This will give us the clinical experience,” said Keffer, noting their medical education primarily has been book learning until now.
“It will solidify our learning to this point,” agreed Foulds. “It’s building on the first two years.”
NOSM said the Comprehensive Community Clerkships take place in medium-sized community across Northern Ontario.
“Learners undertake a wide range of clinical learning activities throughout the community, as well as engaging in group teaching sessions including virtual academic rounds [VARs] and distributed topic sessions [DTS],” it noted in the overview of the program.
“Learners also undertake a reflective research project based in the needs and dynamics of their host communities,” it added.
The CCC also allows the opportunity to care for patients in a safe and efficient manner due to the clerkship’s prolonged duration, which promotes continuity of care.
“The students increase their knowledge of medical care through clinical encounters and through the socio-cultural context in which the patient and their family cope and adapt to their health-care needs,” the overview stated.
“This is a key year for them as they start the clinical work,” stressed Dr. Jason Shack, chair of the Fort Frances Physician Recruitment Committee.
“They will work with all of [the physicians], including the surgeons, specialists that come to town, nursing, and even home care,” he noted.
Both students are eager to take on a physical exam and work on planning treatment.
“It will be great to complete an assessment and develop a plan for treatment,” said Foulds.
“Whether it’s right or not, it will be a great hands-on learning experience.”
They also are anxious to spend some time in the emergency room to try their hand at some more acute situations.
“I’m a little nervous,” admitted Keffer. “It will be a learning curve.”
But they feel that being in a smaller community, they will be able to learn in a lot of different areas.
“I think we’ll get to dabble in a lot,” said Keffer. “And a lot of it will be exciting because so much of it will be new to us.”
The pair also will get to spend plenty of time one-on-one with the physicians who work at the clinic and hospital here.
Speaking with medical students who already have completed their CCC, Keffer and Foulds have been told they’ll start to feel more comfortable in their work by October.
“I know we’ll grow a lot, but right now it’s hard to imagine,” Foulds said.
“I think by the end, we’ll have developed some skills and be more confident in our clinical decision-making compared to others who don’t get this experience in third year,” he reasoned.
Keffer, meanwhile, is somewhat concerned about seeing people he might know as patients.
“People are welcoming so it shouldn’t be too strange,” he remarked. “It will be nice to see familiar faces.
“I’m really looking forward to it.”
“We’ve been treated really well,” added Foulds, noting they were taken on a tour of the community and were the guests of honour at a “meet-and-greet” dinner at Boston Pizza last week.
“I think it’s going to be a great experience,” he enthused.