SMA brings Roadmap Tour to Estevan

St. Joseph’s Hospital, health-care in Estevan and the community as a whole were on display on Saturday as the Saskatchewan Medical Association brought its Roadmap Tour to the Energy City.

Nearly 40 aspiring physicians and family medicine residents from the University of Saskatchewan’s College of Medicine were in Estevan for the tour. The Roadmap program is designed to showcase rural and regional centres in Saskatchewan, so that more locally-trained physicians will be working in smaller communities.

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Roadmap is a relatively new initiative, and this marked the first time it has been in Estevan.

The event started at St. Joseph’s Hospital, where the students heard speeches from three local physicians: Dr. Khalid Sheikh, Dr. Charles Omosigho and Dr. Edward Tsoi.

“They all talked about their practice a little bit, they talked about what’s rewarding to them, and one of the common themes that they all talked about is for young physicians who want a family practice, who want a broad spectrum of a practice, this is a great community for them,” said St. Joseph’s Hospital CEO Greg Hoffort.

Tsoi, for example, told the students he is part of a family from birth to death, and that happens, in part, because of the rural setting. 

Then the students broke into three groups. They were given a tour of the hospital by Hoffort, witnessed a demonstration of neonatal resuscitation by obstetrics manager Renee Goulet, and they witnessed a demonstration of the hospital’s year-old CT scanner by technician Shawn McCleary.

But the visit was also a chance to showcase the community. Mayor Roy Ludwig hosted a lunch at the Affinity Place lounge. Then they participated in a canvas and cabernet session hosted by the Estevan Public Library, which is similar to the library’s paint nights.

Students tossed some rocks at the Power Dodge Curling Centre, and enjoyed supper at the TS&M Woodlawn Golf Club before returning to Saskatoon.

“These are the physicians of the future, so to be able to expose them to our community is just a wonderful opportunity,” said Hoffort. “We like to get the students here. We like to have them here over the course of their educational career.”Some of the recreational facilities in Estevan are as good as anywhere in the province, he said, so they wanted to show the delegates everything Estevan has to offer in terms of quality of life.

This was the fourth and final Roadmap Tour hosted by the SMA this year. The SMA approached the hospital to see if they would be willing to host a Roadmap visit, and the hospital jumped at the opportunity.

While they didn’t have recruiting forms for the students to sign after the visit, Hoffort believes they now know what Estevan is all about. 

For Michelle Sheikh, the Roadmap Program tour was a homecoming. The daughter of Dr. Sheikh, she graduated from the Estevan Comprehensive School in 2008. At the time, she had no interest in a career in medicine.

“I actually went away to do architecture, but I didn’t want that. I came back and did a few years in Regina,” said Sheikh. “I just finished my degree in nutrition at the University of Saskatchewan, decided to give medicine a shot, got in and knew this is what I’ve always wanted to do.”

And while she has spent a lot of time at the hospital over the years, she was surprised with some of the amenities she saw at St. Joseph’s, including the dialysis unit, and some of the additions to the hospital, such as the CT scanner.

“I loved it. I thought it was so cool to watch,” said Sheikh. “I’ve never actually seen a scan done. I knew that we got it recently, and it was a big deal for us.”

The students analysed the scan and picked out some of the things they saw.

The social opportunities were a great part of the tour, she said, because they get to see what the city has to offer. The atmosphere at canvas and cabernet was particularly enjoyable.

“Maybe, thinking it’s a small town, they never expected to see all this,” said Sheikh.

Sheikh is a first year student who still has three years of studies remaining. She would like to do some rotations in Estevan, and she said she would be open to returning to the Energy City eventually, and possibly even practicing alongside her father.

Brooke Hoffman of Regina said the Roadmaps Tour allowed her to experience medicine in a rural setting, which is something she and other students from larger centres might not have had. 

“I don’t have experience with rural medicine, so I think that Estevan would be a really good chance for me, as a student, to come and see what it’s like for a week or two, or even a couple of days,” said Hoffman.

A first-year student, Hoffman said she has interest in all aspects of medicine, but obstetrics is the direction she is leaning in.

Hoffman was impressed with all that St. Joseph’s has to offer.

“I was surprised at how big the hospital is,” said Hoffman. “We got to see the new CT scanner, the ICU, the obstetrics ward. I didn’t know there were so many specialities here, but it’s nice to know the opportunity is here for those who want it.”

She was particularly surprised the CT scanner only needed a few minutes, and that so many surgeries can be completed in Estevan. 

Hoffman noted that she has family in the Estevan area, and has visited the city a few times, but it’s been a while since she has been here, and she didn’t realize Estevan had so much to offer.

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