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This year, 20 medical students attended Rural Week in eight communities in the Interlake-Eastern area.

During Rural Week, first-year medical students are hosted by communities and given the opportunity to shadow physicians, nurse practitioners and other care providers during their regular workday in local health clinics. 

In an effort to provide medical students with exposure to the practice diversity found in rural settings, students shadowed hospital and primary health care staff in Arborg, Teulon, Stonewall, Gimli, Oak Bank, Beausejour, Pine Falls and Pinawa. 

On top of clinic time, the week also includes a host of activities organized by community volunteers to give students an understanding of what it’s like to live and work in rural communities. Medical students in Arborg did pickleball, a heritage village tour and fishing. In Gimli, students did a cruise of Lake Winnipeg and enjoyed an outdoor barbecue with bonfire.

David Oakley, chair of the Teulon Health Care Foundation and visit co-ordinator in Teulon, said the students in Teulon enjoyed a barbecue, golfing and a tour of a local colony.

“It is such a pleasure to host students as they are so engaging and open to partaking in many new experiences. Every event seems to be well received and there is a lot of dialogue between the students, our foundation team and community members,” Oakley said. “Without question, their favourite part was climbing aboard a 500 HP John Deere tractor at the colony. Each student was able to sit in the driver’s seat, hear the roar of the engine and turn the gigantic wheels effortlessly.”

On top of clinic and hospital time at Selkirk Regional Health Centre, the week also includes a host of activities organized by community volunteers to give students an understanding of what it’s like to live and work in rural communities.

Shirley Muir, visit co-ordinator for Selkirk, hosted a small barbecue at her historical home in Selkirk. Merrilee Mollard, visit coordinator for Selkirk as well also hosted a separate barbecue at her cottage in Whytewold.

“I think we all know that future doctors have lots of options, and we just wanted them to see that Selkirk is the best of both worlds— but, most important, a welcoming and inclusive community,” Muir said. “Several young adults who attended shared why they’ve made Selkirk their home and why they grow their businesses in Selkirk. Some said they liked that Selkirk was large enough to have all the amenities for them and for raising a family. Others said they loved that Selkirk has lakes, forests, beaches and provincial parks right in its backyard.”

Students also did hang gliding and visited a bee farm in Beausejour.

Rural Week, as part of the University of Manitoba medical curriculum, first started in 2004.

It’s an initiative co-ordinated by Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority in collaboration with the department of family medicine, Max Rady College of Medicine and the Manitoba HealthCare Providers Network. 

“Interlake-Eastern thanks each of the visit co-ordinators, doctors, nurses and staff, as well as the welcoming citizens of our region who made Rural Week 2023 such a success,” said Pamela Robertson, physician recruiter. “We can’t wait to do it again next year..”

For more information on career opportunities with Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority, please visit

To see photos of the events, visit 2023 Rural Week Photos.

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