Neepawa showcases rural option to future doctors




Photo by Eoin Devereux

Doctor Robert Poettcker (on right) explains a medical procedure to a pair of University of Manitoba med students during a workshop in Neepawa on Saturday, Jan. 28.

Eoin Devereux
Neepawa Banner & Press

Future doctors converged on Neepawa and Brandon last weekend to both hone their skills and learn about the benefits of working in rural Manitoba. The 48 first and second-year students from the University of Manitoba (U of M) were split into two groups; with half paying a visit to the Brandon Regional Health Centre and the other half assembling at Country Meadows Personal Care Home in Neepawa. In past years, other rural communities that have co-hosted with Brandon have included Killarney, Souris, Swan River and Virden.

The annual workshop was put together by Prairie Mountain Health, the Manitoba Office of Rural and Northern Health and the U of M Max Rady College of Medicine. Its purpose was to see the students work on a variety of medical procedures on location at the host sites. Dr. Sandra Wiebe was one of the local physicians who participated in the workshop, teaching  proper procedure to the students. Dr. Wiebe explained what occurred at each training station.

“The idea is to have these procedural skills stations examining a variety of different cases. We all came up with our own. These are fairly entry level students, so, for them to practice IV’s for example, which would be considered a basic medical procedure is not inappropriate,” stated Dr. Wiebe. “But we also wanted to do something a little bit different. We’re showing them some more advanced procedures. So the anesthetist, Dr. Poettcker, for example, is doing some more advanced airway skills. I’m doing thoracentesis skill, which is basically the removal of fluid from the chest. Our goal is to give them that exposure of these procedures, so that they’ll have the basic steps.”

While the workshop was focused primarily on training, it was also the chance for some students, to broaden their perspective when it comes to the option of practicing medicine in rural communities. Carly McLellan, Rural Interest Group (RIG) co-president and second year med student, said the trip is a real eye opener for some of the students from more urban settings.

“What many of my urban classmates learn from this is the wide scope of practices that are available for physicians in rural areas. They have a certain expectation and then they come out here and are blown away by what they actually can do as a physician, compared to specialities in the city.” stated McLellan. First year med student Kylee Lewis of Brandon echoed McLellan’s perspective, adding that many students perspective’s on rural Manitoba are changing. She said many are seeing it as a viable long term career option.

Prairie Mountain Health director, Michelle McKay, noted that this type of sessions provide an excellent chance for first and second-year medical students to see what opportunities —both work and lifestyle-related— await within our region. “Students are often extremely surprised by Brandon Regional Health Centre (BRHC) facilities and the wide scope of practice of rural physicians in tight-knit communities like Neepawa,” McKay stated.