It was a fantastic experience for the 55 first- and second-year medical students who visited the Westman Region this past weekend, says student medical team lead, Vienna Peters.

Prairie Mountain Health partnered with Health Careers Manitoba and Max Rady College of Medicine, Faculty of Sciences, at the University of Manitoba medical student Rural Interest Group (RIG) from Friday evening to Sunday.

And this is the REST of the story!

Vienna Peters is a second-year medical student in the program, and co-president of RIG, to promote the benefits of practicing medicine in rural communities and available opportunities.

Peters was one of the 25 med students who also ventured to the Souris medical clinic and hospital, where they got a tour of the town and the medical facilities, and they got to experience hands-on interaction with the Souris doctors and members of the EMS team.

Peters participated in last year's RIG tour which focused on the Brandon hospital and specialty clinics. "This was the first time that I got exposure to something smaller," she says. "The Brandon Center is great, and Boundary Trails is great, but this was really small compared to those and it was really neat to have that perspective too."

At this stage of their medical training as a first or second-year student, the students don't often get hands-on exposure to being in a rural hospital or clinic setting. 

"Oftentimes students don't know that there are opportunities to go to the different communities to do electives in our training, or to do residency there, so I think this exposure by heading out to not only Brandon, but Souris, our eyes were opened as far as where we could go to, not just settle down but to train, and in that aspect I think there was a lot of value in that!"

"Now we know! Now we are aware of the different options available to us!"

Another aspect of the medical tour was to help the students identify the specific areas of need.  "Dr. Sobel talked about addictions and how that's something that she's really interested in, and how in rural practice you can kind of tailor your clinic and your practice into not only what you're interested in but what the needs are of the community," explains Peters.

"So, by being aware of that by going to these kinds of events and learning about the community's needs I think is very important to make sure that it kind of aligns with what you would like to practice in and then go from there," she says.

"And it was so cool to have the different people from the community of Souris, who grew up in that community, share about their community.  The tour on the bus was one of the highlights!"

Souris representatives included doctor recruitment committee chair, Darryl Jackson, Souris Mayor Duane Davison, and Scott Phillips, councilor for the Rural Municipality of Sifton.

"Those three men were so passionate about the community!  I felt emotional many times throughout the day just listening to them speak.  It's really cool to have someone in that stage of life speak into our lives, where we're at as young learners.  It was a big impact!"

To summarize the weekend of hands-on interaction with medical teams in the Westman area, spending time with municipal leaders and the Brandon hospital team, Peters says there was so much to take away from the whole experience. 

"Working in a rural community I think can instill a sense of pride and ownership," she shares, "and it was so evident in the people, and I think it's very inspiring for us moving forward in our careers.  And a big thank you to everyone at Prairie Mountain Health, and obviously everyone at the town of Souris and at the Souris clinic!"

"It was so much fun. It was such a great weekend!"

Please listen to more with Vienna Peters below!

Photos submitted by Vienna Peters:

Photo 1 - Intubation & Bagging Station - Stephanie Hunter, M2 (She is from Brandon originally)

Photo 2 - Casting Station - Felicia Daeninck, M2 (left), Emily Czaplinski, M2 (right) (Both from Winnipeg)

Photo 3 - Casting Station - From left to right: Ahmed-Nasser Bihi, M1 (Winnipeg), Philip Imasuen, M1 (Winnipeg), Vienna Peters, M2 (Morden), Charanpreet Kaur, M2 (Winnipeg)