Clerkship at St. Joseph’s has been an enjoyable experience for aspiring physician

Lindsay Richels is looking forward to when she will graduate from the College of Medicine at the University of Saskatchewan, and begin her career as a physician.

But first she will spend time in Estevan through the longitudinal integrated clerkship (LIC), which will give her the opportunity to spend 42 weeks at St. Joseph’s Hospital while furthering her skills.

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A reception to welcome her to the hospital was held Tuesday, with representatives from the hospital, the College of Medicine, SaskDocs and the Saskatchewan Medical Association among those in attendance.

“I just checked in with Lindsay this morning, and she’s done a lot more than a lot of other medical students would do,” said Dr. Kent Stobart, the vice-dean of education and professor of pediatrics at the College of Medicine.

She has already dabbled in maternity, obstetrics, general surgery, family practice, emergency shifts and psychiatry, and has even spent time with the orthopedic surgeon.

The LIC differs from a traditional, rotation-based clerkship. In the rotation-based clerkship, physicians rotate through six weeks for each of surgery, medicine, family medicine and psychiatry. But with the program in Estevan, it’s integrated, so she will see all sorts of patients.

“You can see a patient who has a mental health issue in the morning, a child health (patient) in the afternoon, somebody who is having a heart attack in the evening, and you have to integrate them all together to provide the best learning opportunity,” said Stobart.

It has been shown elsewhere to increase the learning of the physicians, and it has also helped bring physicians to rural communities.

Richels raved about her experience in the community. The training opportunities have been wonderful, and have surpassed her expectations.

“I will definitely get a good spread of all the things, so I’ll get to see all different disciplines and hopefully become proficient in some of them, not just be there to observe, but be there to work and to learn and to help out as well,” said Richels.

The LIC appeals to her because it gives her the opportunity to see all sorts of practices and learn on the job.

A native of Churchbridge, Richels is also pleased to be learning in a smaller centre.

“I love it here. I can’t say enough about how good the people are, the culture here,” she said. “Being here is truly an honour.”

She was also able to promote the LIC to aspiring physicians who were in Estevan last month through the Saskatchewan Medical Association’s Road Map Tour.

“There is lots of interest already, and lots of interest in the city of Estevan, so that’s good for just starting out,” she said. “I’ve had a lot of good feedback already, and a lot of really impressed and curious medical students wanting to come here and do their training.” 

Richels recognizes a lot of work and effort has gone into getting the program into Estevan, and she is pleased to learn here.

“In the next few years, I know this program is going to become super competitive, just with the opportunities that I have been given already, I know other students are going to want the same opportunities.”

She also displayed a sense of humour in her speech during the reception. She reminded the audience that a year is a long time to be learning in a community. It could be a really good experience, or it can be frustrating. Her statement drew a lot of laughter.

“That takes a lot. You don’t just get rid of me in six weeks. You have to have me for a year. And thanks to all of the other physicians as well for giving me the opportunities to learn.”

She also pointed out that she had been to St. Joseph’s once before, back when she was a pharmacy student.

Estevan was selected for the clerkship after the College of Medicine was approached by St. Joseph’s Hospital executive director Greg Hoffort and local physician Dr. Edward Tsoi. Another local physician, Dr. Edward Kricken, has also taken a lead, while hospital employee Kristin Dupuis has played a key role in the program.

Hoffort predicted this year will go a long ways to making the program in Estevan a success, and the local physicians are already raving about Richels’ work.

Stobart believes communities like Estevan and Meadow Lake, which also has an LIC, need this program, just like Saskatoon and Regina.

He said this is about engaging with Estevan, which he admits the college has not done well in the past, and creating opportunities, not just for the College of Medicine, but also nursing, dentistry and other departments.

“Our real goal is that the people from here will see this as a career opportunity,” said Stobart.

As for the post-graduate residency program offered through the College of Physicians, which St. Joseph’s has been pursuing for some time, Stobart is aware that is a goal the community would like to move on, and the college would be more than willing to help.

“I’m always willing to work with a community to build the links and increase the educational opportunities,” he said.


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