A number of first-year medical students from the University of Manitoba are participating in ‘Rural Week’ within Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) region between May 30 and June 4.

During the last two years, the COVID pandemic limited both the number of students participating in health facilities as well as normally scheduled community activities.

Rural Week provides medical students with an opportunity to gain first-hand experience of how rural and northern Manitoba medical practices function. It also promotes the many benefits of working and living in a rural/northern Manitoba area.

PMH remains an active partner this week with 27 medical students assigned to nine communities. Communities participating this year include Brandon, Dauphin, Hamiota, Killarney, Minnedosa, Neepawa, Russell, Ste. Rose and Swan River.

Students participate in a variety of rural physician practices, and in most cases, tag along with a ‘doc’ to see how their patient days unfold. However, the students will receive some assignments that allow them to explore communities on their own.

“We always look forward to opportunities that allow us to highlight medical facilities, sites and communities within the health region in the hopes that some of the medical students eventually select to live and work in rural Manitoba,” stated Michelle McKay, Director of Health Services, Primary Care. Manitoba HealthCare Providers Network project coordinator Ashley Shaw adds that based on yearly student evaluations this initiative remains overwhelmingly positive and one students highly anticipate. “For students from an ‘urban-origin’ this may be their first real experience with rural life. For those from rural areas, it’s a chance to reinforce the positive aspects of rural life and to connect them to medical professionals that have chosen to practice rurally,” Shaw said.

Rural Week started back in 2003.