It takes a village to train a medical student
You may have encountered them in many settings. One may have delivered your baby; another may have helped you grieve the death of a loved one. You may have had a cast applied to a broken limb by one, and still another may have picked up a critical abnormal finding on your physical exam. These are our medical students and residents doctors who have played a vital role in Morden and Winkler for years.
A medical learner’s journey begins after having completed a university degree with high grades and performing well on the admissions test (the MCAT). In 2018 at the University of Manitoba faculty of medicine, over 1,000 applied for only 110 spots.
Successful students then learn about physiology and pathophysiology of the human body for two years before embarking on the privileged journey of interacting with patients for another two years. Graduates earn their “MD” and are full-fledged resident doctors.
There is an additional 2–5 years of residency training and exams prior to being certified family doctors o specialists. Our clinical teaching unit at Boundary Trails currently accommodates four resident doctors and many more medical students, per year.
Working alongside students in the hospital and clinics provides benefits on three fronts. First is the benefit to the learner. Every patient and disease they encounter is building the framework for them to be attentive future physicians. I remember several patients during my training that taught me invaluable lessons and shaped me into the physician I am today.
Second is the benefit to our group of physicians. Learners are always challenging us to be up to date on the latest guidelines and studies. As much as we impart our knowledge on them, we benefit equally from their detailed approach. I can think of countless occasions where students have picked up subtle finding on physical exams or helpful details while taking the time to listen to patients’ stories. This reminds me that medicine is not static—all physicians must continue to be students of medicine.
Finally, the greatest beneficiary of embracing these learners is our community. Remember that when you see a supervised student, you have a team of two medical professionals putting their expertise together to provide great care. Our students are often returning from rotations in larger centres like Health Science Centre of St. Boniface Hospital where they have been learning alongside leading experts in such fields as cardiology, pediatrics, neurosurgery, and oncology among many others.
Exposure to our community can also attract learners back after graduation, filling the gap of the hundreds needing family doctors. My experience as a student at Boundary Trails ultimately led me to Winkler. I would not have likely ended up practising family medicine here had I not had that fortunate opportunity.
Hopefully I have provided some insight into the journey of medical learners. I am convinced that their involvement in care improves the health of our community. Remember that you, too, are all invested in developing the next generation of doctors that will serve our community for decades to come.
The next time you encounter a medical learner, take pride in being a pat of an experience that can have a lasting impact on a young doctor’s career and be sure to give them a warm welcome!
Dr. David Chudley