At the end of this year, once the dust of exams has settled, all 225 students in the second year class will be dispersed to the four corners of this province and beyond in order to complete the rural practice component of our curriculum. The Rural Practice Program will take us away from our loved ones and the comfort of homes and place us in the middle of nowhere to practice Medicine for the first time. Most of the locations are remote rural although there are also under-serviced urban communities we can select if we so choose.
The Rural and Under-served Community Practice program, as it is officially called, was first introduced in 1974 and was adopted by the Faculty of Medicine in 1997 as a permanent part of the undergraduate program. It is viewed as a “gateway” to the clinical years and is meant to expose us (the student) to a “hands-on” experience which should give an understanding of the office setting in rural Canada. This has been a highly anticipated aspect of the second year and a source of great stress lately as the deadline for ranking our choices is today.
Presently each of the students trying to rank a large number of different locations and preceptors from the area that they would most like to go to, all the way down to the area that they’d rather avoid if possible. Given that we are dealing with a group of type A personalities here, the faculty has set firm guidelines about contacting doctors outside of the program and warned the lot of us away from stalking preceptors in locations of choice. I have ranked my choices first on the basis of location, and second on the basis of timing. My preference is to go to the Yukon if possible and the reasoning is straightforward; I have friends up in the territory already and would love to see them again (I could, in essence, kill two birds with one stone)… And then there is also the incredible hiking (see picture above). The reasoning behind my choice for timing has a lot to do with optimizing my chances for getting my location of choice. At the end of the day, all of the student names and choices will be fed into the belly of a great computer which will then match each student to a location by lottery selection. Here’s to the luck of the draw!