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Home for the Summer Program underway in Interlake-Eastern RHA

Fresh off a successful Rural Week initiative, Interlake-Eastern RHA recently hosted students interested in working in the region for the summer. Home for the Summer is a joint initiative with Manitoba regional health authorities (RHAs) and the formerly known Office of Rural and Northern Health (ORNH). ORNH, which is now a part of the Manitoba Health Care Providers Network, started the program as a pilot in 2006.

The program provides students from the Interlake-Eastern RHA with hands-on clinical or site experience overseen through job shadowing roles. It originally started with medical students, but now extends to nursing and other students including positions in home care, mental health, public health, long term care nursing and pharmacy. By far and away, Interlake-Eastern RHA is becoming a favourite with medical students, according to Lorri Beer, who is responsible for physician recruitment in the region.

“Four years ago, we had two students interested in home for the summer positions. This year we’re hosted 17 students – more than any other Health Authority in the province!  Our practitioners and community members have been working hard to highlight the many benefits that come when working in this beautiful region. That work is starting to pay off!” Beer said.

Practices in Arborg, Beausejour, Gimli, Oakbank, Pinawa, Selkirk, Stonewall hostedmedical students for anywhere from two to six weeks. Many students were also provided with opportunities to experience Selkirk’s emergency department and the Indigenous traditional healing centre, Giigewigamig, that is part of Pine Falls Health Complex.

“We’d be nowhere if we didn’t have doctors in clinics and hospitals who are willing to invest time in mentoring new practitioners. We are extremely fortunate to have so many outstanding physicians with such a strong commitment to and affinity for medical learners.  In turn, the student response and enthusiasm has been overwhelming as they work side-by-side with our dedicated rural practitioners,” Beer said.

There are eight nursing and  health care students spread amongst Selkirk, Lac du Bonnet, Arborg and Beausejour. There is a minimum five week commitment from these students who can be in their positions for as long as 16 weeks.

Interlake-Eastern RHA and the Manitoba Health Care Providers Network share in the funding support for student wages within the term positions. Students need to be enrolled in a health care training program that fits a future need for Interlake-Eastern RHA.

“This is part of Manitoba’s long-term recruitment strategy that focusses resources on Manitoba trainees,” said Wayne Heide, Network Project Coordinator. “It provides opportunities throughout the training cycle for learners to spend time in rural and northern practice sites for both educational rotations and summer positions and offers them first-hand experience within rural practices and settings. It also creates an excellent opportunity for RHAs to begin to recruit these future health care professionals.”

Read on to follow the journeys of three of our region’s Home for the Summer students and what they had to say about their experiences in the program.

Student Profile: Sanisha Taylor, nursing student (Community Mental Health Program - Selkirk)
HFTS - Sanisha Taylor
Sanisha Taylor at Selkirk’s community health office this summer.

Sanisha Taylor, born and raised in East Selkirk, recently completed her third year of a Bachelor of Nursing Program at the University of Manitoba. This is her second year working with the Home for the Summer program. In her first year, she worked in regional personal care homes completing surveys and audits. This year she was placed in Selkirk to work with Interlake-Eastern RHA’s community mental health program.

Speaking of her journey over the past couple of years in the program, she is grateful for the practical experience and confidence she gained.

“This program is a huge benefit to my studies. It allows me to see different levels of work within the system from front line workers to high-level administrative staff. I get to experience fields of work that we do not cover in our clinical rotations at school. As a nursing student, working here helps me build confidence in my analytical skills, observation skills and increases my understanding of what health care really is.”

Student Profile: Jess Polley, medical student (Pinawa, Lac du Bonnet and Selkirk hospitals)
HFTS - Jess Polley

Jess Polley (pictured in centre wearing light blue shirt) in a farewell group photo with Pinawa Hospital staff this summer.

Jess Polley, a second year medical student, spent six weeks at hospitals in Pinawa, Lac du Bonnet and Selkirk working with both acute and chronic care patients. He said he very much appreciated developing a familiarity with the region’s staff and facilities and developing a more integrated knowledge and experience of health care. Jess highly recommended the program as a way for medical and health care students to develop practical skills and understand what it’s like to work in rural communities.

 “I would recommend Home for the Summer  for any student, especially those interested in enhancing their hands on skills and rural medicine. The IERHA has outstanding physicians, nurses and other health care professionals that make it a fun experience and capable of taking students’ learning to the next level!”

Student Profile: Megan Sorokopud-Jones, medical student (Selkirk Regional Health Centre)
Megan Sorokopud-Jones grew up in Selkirk, said it was exciting to be “learning medicine in the town where I played hockey, took dance classes and went to high school.” Having just completed her first year of medical school, she did not have a lot of hospital experience before working with the Selkirk Regional Health Centre (SRHC). During her time with the program she took patient histories, did physical exams, shadowed doctors and nurses in various specialties and learned about tests and procedures. Her time working at SRHC included a lot of “firsts.”

“The best part about being so early in my medical education is that almost every day I got to see and do things during Home for the Summer that I had never done before. There are so many “firsts” that I completed in Selkirk: suturing on my own, scrubbing in on surgery, administering drugs through an IV  and ordering tests in the emergency department to name a few. I feel so lucky that I got the opportunity to participate in this program. It was a very memorable experience that made me excited about the opportunities in rural medicine.”

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