Local med students enjoy first few months in school

Heather Latter

Lucas Keffer and Dylan Thompson of Fort Frances currently are attending the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) in Thunder Bay and both say they’ve enjoyed the first few months of med school.
“It’s a really active learning environment as opposed to the kind of didactic lectures you get in more a traditional school,” Thompson noted.
“From the word go, we’re already out in the community helping as we learn.”
Keffer said his favourite thing about med school so far is the community placements.
“They send us out into the community for three hours every week and we rotate through different places,” he explained, citing some of the placements he’s had so far have included Shopper’s Drug Mart and a home oxygen business called Medigas.
“I also spent some time with a doctor in St. Joseph’s care group doing geriatric assessments for dementia patients,” Keffer noted, adding this week he’s scheduled to head in to observe surgery at the Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre.
“We get to do a lot of different things. It’s a lot of fun getting to see everything,” he enthused.
He added the first-year students only have one lecture a week, which “is a nice change.”
“We have a lot of small group discussions, which I also really like because instead of just listening to a lecture, we can talk things out and bring questions up in a smaller setting,” he reasoned.
And while admitting he didn’t know what he was getting himself into when he was accepted to med school, Keffer said it’s more enjoyable than he thought it would be.
“I didn’t have a lot of expectations,” he remarked, saying school is still quite busy but it’s a lot of information more than anything.
Being able to learn about plenty of different areas might be why both currently are interested in becoming family physicians.
“There’s just so many ways you can go with it,” Thompson said. “When you are doing rural practice, you have a much wider scope of practice than a family physician in the city.”
At this point, both Thompson and Keffer indicated they would like to return to Fort Frances to practise upon completing med school and their residencies.
“But that is still many years away and things could certainly change, but right now I’d like to come back to Fort Frances,” Keffer remarked.
“It’s hard to know what four years can hold but that’s the plan right now,” echoed Thompson.
He added the NOSM and curriculum was designed with the needs of Northwestern Ontario in mind.
“They are looking for people who have an actual interest in working in Northwestern Ontario,” he explained.
“Learning the skills that are necessary to working in rural environments.”
Thompson and Keffer are members of the Wilderness Medicine Interest Group at the school and both have a strong appreciation for the outdoors.
“If it wasn’t for this school, I probably wouldn’t be in medicine right now,” admitted Keffer, who wanted to study in the region instead of a larger centre, preferring wilderness over traffic.
Local physician recruiter Jackie Lampi-Hughes is encouraged by the NOSM, which first welcomed students in September, 2005 and has since seen three graduating classes.
She is thrilled that two locals not only were accepted—and on their first attempt—to the school, but that they are considering returning to practise here.
“A lot could change for them over the next few years, but it’s still nice to see,” she said.