September 30, 2023


Booking Travel

Medical students get hands-on experience in local healthcare settings

Fourteen first-year medical students from London’s Schulich Medicine & Dentistry are shadowing physicians and visiting patients across Lambton County this week.

This year marks the 25th anniversary of Discovery Week, which sees students take part in immersive one-week placements at healthcare facilities across Southwestern Ontario.

Locally, they’ll be stationed at Bluewater Health’s Sarnia and Petrolia sites as well as the Community Health Centres and Rapids Family Health Team.

Bluewater Health Chief of Staff Dr. Michel Haddad said the students will be exposed to community medicine, and will gain valuable experience in the field.

“It’s a mix of shadowing a variety of physicians here,” said Haddad. “It could be primary care or specialists in the hospital. Some of the students go to the OR or to the ER or different medical or surgical floors. Also, family doctors’ offices, and primary care. We also ensure they have some time outside of work. We have social events organized for them to show them around the community to give them a sense of what it’s like to live and work in Sarnia.”

Dr. Haddad said students generally have a very positive experience in Sarnia-Lambton, but he said it’s difficult to say how many actually stay in the area after they graduate.

“It’s sort of like planting seeds that take ten years to grow,” said Haddad. “The students go on, they do a residency specialty and some come back. Some of them don’t come here, but they tell their friends to come and check it out. It’s hard to pinpoint exactly how many end up coming back, but the more we expose the community to the medical learners the better. We’ve had many people hear about us and come here and do rotations because somebody else told them to come here. Many of the students have never been here before and they’re always quite impressed.”

Former Assistant Dean of Distributed Education at the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry Dr. George Kim said students gain valuable life experience.

“After getting a taste of life and medicine in a rural or regional community through opportunities like Discovery Week, many Schulich medical students return to practice upon completion of their training,” said Kim. “We’re so grateful to collaborate with partners like Bluewater Health, who welcome our medical students and give them unparalleled first-hand training experiences in their communities. Working together, we’re creating a cohort of physicians who are ready, willing and able to care for people across Ontario in a variety of settings.”

During Discovery Week 2023, more than 170 Schulich Medicine students will be placed in 29 participating communities, from Owen Sound to Windsor-Essex and Woodstock to Lake Huron.