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Medical students are now getting hands-on training on the South Shore through an expanded program to introduce future doctors to practising in rural communities.

The communities of Bridgewater, Lunenburg and Liverpool are welcoming five medical school students from Dalhousie University in Halifax, who will spend their entire third year in the area through the Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship Program. Traditionally, third-year students do their clerkships with short placements in various communities.

“This is a great way to offer on-the-job training and show students what it’s like to practise in rural areas,” said Health and Wellness Minister Randy Delorey. “It can also help with recruitment. We hope that exposing students to rural medicine early in their studies will interest them in eventually building careers there.”

Starting this week, the students will gain community-based education under the supervision of local doctors during their 48-week clerkship, while also working with other health-care providers in the community.

The Health Services Foundation of the South Shore, South Shore Regional Hospital Auxiliary and Queens General Hospital Foundation contributed $890,000 to create duty rooms, lounges, and learning space at South Shore Regional and Queens General Hospitals, which also supports recruitment and retention.

The clerkship program was first launched in September 2019 in Cape Breton, with four students training each year in North Sydney and New Waterford.

Quotes:

The South Shore clerkship program provides a unique opportunity to stay in one location for our third year of training, allowing continuity of patient care. Learning in this environment will help to shape my development as a clinician interested in community-based care. I am looking forward to building long-term relationships with the mentors I will be learning from, as well as the patients I hope to serve as a future-physician. Carol Morriscey, third-year medical student in South Shore clerkship program

It is through the dedication of physicians across disciplines who are committed to excellent patient care and medical education that the South Shore program has been realized. The program is a fitting next step to solidify exceptional opportunities for medical education and elevate the unique learning experiences in rural Nova Scotia. Dr. Gregory Thibodeau, site director, South Shore Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship

The South Shore program would not be possible without the tremendous amount of community support we have already received. This includes the community preceptors who have agreed to take these learners into their practices and the patients who will actively participate in our students’ learning. Dr. David Anderson, dean, Dalhousie Faculty of Medicine

The Health Services Foundation and its donors are ecstatic to welcome the students who will be working and learning alongside our health-care professionals here on the South Shore. We were more than pleased to support the creation of the duty rooms at South Shore Regional Hospital, along with the South Shore Regional Hospital Auxiliary to make this program possible in Lunenburg County. Arleen Stevens, executive director, Health Services Foundation of the South Shore

When we talk to physicians about living and working in Nova Scotia, it is opportunities like this that give us an advantage. Being able to showcase rural medicine to student learners is a credit to our dedicated physicians across the province. It helps us recruit highly skilled rural physicians and it helps us retain the expertise we have. These system partnerships are really making a difference in Nova Scotia healthcare. Our community, foundations and supporters came to the table to support the vision and transform medical education. Dr. Nicole Boutilier, vice-president of Medicine, Nova Scotia Health Authority

Quick Facts:

  • government is investing about $130,000 in the South Shore program
  • Dalhousie University’s goal is to have one third of its medical students take part in the clerkship program around the province over the next four years
  • clerkships give students the opportunity to participate as part of the clinical team and begin to care for patients
  • government is supporting more training opportunities in rural areas through the clerkship program and more residency seats in rural Nova Scotia
  • 16 first-year medical seats were added to Dalhousie Medical School over the last two years, for a total of 94 first-year seats

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