Two third-year medical students from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) were welcomed to Fort Frances last week, and the pair will be living and learning here for 30 weeks as they complete their comprehensive community clerkships.
Brienne Lowey-Bodkin and Jacqueline Edwards underwent orientation last week, and officially were greeted by community members last Wednesday evening with a reception at Little Beaver Cultural Centre.
Lowey-Bodkin hails from Thunder Bay but has local roots, being related to Donna and Blair Lowey (her aunt and uncle) and Chris and Jim Lowey (her grandparents) here in Rainy River District.
“I have been coming to Fort Frances since I was little, so I am familiar with Fort Frances. That sort of made it an easy transition moving here, and I am living with my grandparents, too,” she noted. “Fort Frances is pretty comfortable for me. That’s why I chose it originally—to go somewhere that I know.”
After having a quick tour of the Fort Frances Community Clinic and La Verendrye Hospital, Lowey-Bodkin said she thinks the town “will be a great place to learn,” adding she also did a placement in Emo last year, which she enjoyed.
“I like the fact it’s a smaller hospital and smaller community. There’s only the two med students here, so there will be lots of learning opportunities for us,” she mentioned.
Lowey-Bodkin said she has an interest in pediatrics, but while she is here, she’s keen to find out more about family medicine and how it’s practised in a small community.
“It is practised so differently and they’re exposed to so many more things. I think that’s what I am looking to focus on this year, to really see how family medicine is practised,” she said.
Edwards, who also hails from Thunder Bay, said she’s looking forward to the learning experience, and “getting a well-rounded picture of medicine.”
“I’ve got a lot of experience with orthopedics so far, so I am hoping to spend some time with Dr. Porter when he is here,” she noted. “But I am interested in seeing all the other areas, making sure that I know I am making the right decision when I say I am going into orthopedics.
“That’s the area I am looking at, but I don’t want to miss out on anything,” added Edwards.
“The setup they have here is quite unique. We’re usually with a different doctor every day. Most of our classmates are with a doctor for a week or a month—with us, it’s always rotating, it’s always different,” she said. “That’s one of the reasons I chose Fort Frances.”
Edwards said they’ve received a warm welcome since arriving on Aug. 28, and is enjoying it so far.
“Everybody’s been really good to us, really helpful. So far, I really like it,” she remarked.
“It’s a very inviting environment for us,” added Edwards. “Everybody’s great, as you can see.”
Edwards, who also has been to Fort Frances before, said she and Lowey-Bodkin, got a tour of the town courtesy of Coun. Andrew Hallikas.
“We saw the library-your new library is gorgeous,” she said. “It will be kind of our study place away from home.
“And the arena is great, because I am a hockey player. I like the hockey rink,” added Edwards. “They have got a very nice pool, nice facilities there. The waterfront’s gorgeous—we’ve already been out walking and running down there.”
“I am a runner, and I have been running down the waterfront every day since I have been here. I really enjoy that part of [Fort Frances],” said Lowey-Bodkin. “The new library is beautiful. I think Fort Frances should be really proud of that. It’s a really, really nice facility. I’ve thought about getting a study room there.”
Over the 30-week period, the two students will work with physicians at La Verendrye Hospital and the Fort Frances Community Clinic, as well observe specialists and various local allied health-care professionals (i.e., chiropractors, dentists, speech pathologists, pharmacists, home care workers, etc.) thanks to an affiliation agreement between the NOSM and Riverside Health Care Facilities, Inc. to allow students to gain valuable hands-on practical experience in the Fort Frances area.
This is the fourth set of medical students who have come through here since 2007.
In addition to being a beneficial learning experience for them, it also gets them used to working in Northern Ontario—and possibly have them come back here to practice down the road.
At the community welcome last Wednesday, Dr. Jason Shack thanked all of the local health professionals on hand for their continuing support of the NOSM comprehensive community clerkship program, while Wayne Woods, president and CEO of Riverside Health Care Facilities, welcomed the two students, thanked the doctors who support the program, and noted that, hopefully, some of the med students that go through it come back here to practice.
Coun. Hallikas presented Lowey-Bodkin and Edwards with gift baskets from the Fort Frances Local NOSM Group and community welcome packages from the Town of Fort Frances.
“Perhaps we can persuade you to return after your studies are done, and stay for a longer period of time,” said Coun. Hallikas.