Thirty (30) University of Saskatchewan (U of S) medical students, between their second and third years of study, are increasing their knowledge of rural practice in 18 communities throughout the province this summer.
These opportunities have been made possible through the Physician Recruitment Agency of Saskatchewan’s Rural Externship Program (PREP); a program jointly delivered by saskdocs, the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) and the U of S College of Medicine. Since PREP’s inception in 2011, 72 participants have embraced the opportunity.
Two of these medical students are immersing themselves in rural practice and rural lifestyle through the program in Swift Current within the Cypress Health Region.
“"The SMA invests in programs such as PREP and the SMA Roadmap for Students and Residents to show medical students firsthand some positive features of rural practice,"
said SMA President Dr. Clare Kozroski. "We know that early exposure to rural medicine increases the likelihood that new medical graduates will return to practice in rural communities. I encourage any medical trainee to visit and experience rural sites while they have the freedom to do that, and then seriously consider joining us in rural practice upon graduation."
While the delivery of PREP is administered by saskdocs, the SMA and U of S, Regional Health Authorities, physicians and numerous other partners are all integral to the success of the program.
Research and evidence indicates that exposing medical learners to rural or remote communities early on in their career increases the likelihood that they will return to practice in the same or similar communities after graduating. “Recruiting and retaining our U of S Medical Graduates is our number one priority,” said saskdocs’ CEO Ed Mantler. “PREP is designed specifically for U of S medical students to gain exposure to rural and remote communities and practice in the province.”
Medical learners not only benefit from the program, so do the communities, clinics and physicians as they get a chance to showcase their region, community and practice to up and coming physicians.
The program is gaining popularity. When the program started in 2011 there were approximately 20 participants, this year the number of participants has increased to 30, which is the largest number to date.