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The Interlake-Eastern region offers opportunities for new doctors who are interested in gaining hands-on rural medicine experience.

Dr. Amanda Wong and Dr. Rita Costa have begun a two-year residency through a family medicine residency program in the region. Residency is the final training stage for doctors after they graduate from medical school.

Born and raised in Manitoba, Amanda pursued all her studies in the province. She completed her undergraduate bachelor of science degree with a major in genetics at the University of Manitoba and continued her medical studies there as well. While completing her bachelor of medicine, she focused her research on predicting injuries in high-level circus artists.

For her residency, Amanda chose to come to Interlake-Eastern for several reasons.

“Firstly, the staff in IERHA are great and create an ideal learning environment for residents, where our learning is prioritized and our experience can be tailored to our areas of interest,” said Amanda, whose family has a cabin in the Interlake and whose mom grew up in East Selkirk.

“Secondly, IERHA serves a large area of rural Manitoba and diverse populations, creating an ideal setting to become a skilled rural family physician. IERHA has been extremely welcoming.”

To start, Amanda will be primarily based out of the Selkirk Medical Centre and the Selkirk Regional Health Centre, and she’ll also spend some time in Lac du Bonnet during her second year of residency.

When she’s not busy studying and working, Amanda loves to play soccer.

“I spent five years playing for the University of Manitoba Bisons’ women’s soccer team during my undergraduate studies, during which I was team captain for several years. I am still playing soccer now and find it to be a good way to socialize with friends and stay active,” she said.

“I have also been quite involved with coaching various soccer teams, including running some soccer camps in Selkirk. Another hobby of mine is my house plants and propagating them. I am also a big sucker for bad Netflix reality shows.”

Looking ahead, Amanda hopes to practise medicine in rural Manitoba.

“I hope to give back to underserved communities and improve access to health care,” she said. “I hope to have a diverse practice and be able to care for people of all ages and backgrounds and have a wide scope of practice to offer my patients.”

Like Amanda, Rita began her studies at the University of Manitoba, where she first obtained a degree in microbiology.

“I absolutely loved learning about how our bodies fought against bacterial and viral diseases. I even completed a research project and published a paper in virology during the last year of my degree,” Rita said.

“I had always had an interest in medicine and wanting to help patients navigate the health-care system, so I applied to the Max Rady College of Medicine here in Manitoba and began my medical journey in fall 2019.”

During her fourth year in medical school, Rita spent two weeks in Selkirk, which piqued her interest in returning to the community.  

“I absolutely loved this experience, and it opened my eyes to how amazing a residency program the IERHA is. I knew that I wanted a residency program that allowed me to be a learner, while also giving me graded responsibility that will allow me to develop the skills and clinical reasoning necessary for independent practice — which is exactly what the program in IERHA allowed me to do,” she said.

“I have had such amazing learning opportunities and know that this is just the beginning. Another amazing aspect of the residency program that really sold me was the people I worked with.”

 Rita also currently works at the Selkirk Medical Centre and the Selkirk Regional Health Centre.

“Everyone I have come into contact with during my residency has been so kind, supportive and I find that everyone is invested in my learning and growth as a resident,” she said.

“I cannot say enough positive words about the residency program here in IERHA. I am truly very lucky to be trained here, and I believe the training I receive here will truly help me as a transition into independent practice at the end of the two years.”

When she’s not busy with her residency, Rita enjoys spending time with family and friends. She also likes to bake and go for walks in nature.

In the future, Rita hopes to continue to call the Interlake home.

“I am not originally from the Interlake region; however, that has not stopped me from exploring the region and loving every minute. I do hope to one day settle down in the Interlake region,” she said.

“I hope to have a comprehensive practice that looks after patients of all ages and different stages in life. I also hope to incorporate women’s health into my practice. My dream would be to practise family medicine in IERHA.”

While Amanda and Rita are in the early stages of their residency experience, Dr. Stewart Nadurak is currently in the second year of his residency program.

The family medicine residency in Interlake-Eastern is co-ordinated by Selkirk Medical Associates in collaboration with the department of family medicine, Max Rady College of Medicine and Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority. Dr. Ian Alexander of Selkirk Medical Associates is the lead. To date, the regional medicine residency program has trained and graduated six residents since launching in the region in 2019, and five of them have remained in the region.

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