Medical students enjoyed time here

Duane Hicks

Two third-year students from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine wrapped up their comprehensive community clerkships (CCC) here last month after spending about 30 weeks learning on the job from local physicians and other health-care professionals.
The fourth set of medical students who have come through here since 2007, Jacqueline Edwards and Brienne Lowey-Bodkin spent the 30-week period working with physicians at La Verendrye Hospital and the Fort Frances Community Clinic.
They also observed 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. that allows students to gain valuable hands-on practical experience in the Fort Frances area.
“In terms of clinical learning, you really can’t top the way CCC is organized,” said Edwards, who hails from Thunder Bay.
“Having the chance to work in the ER, OR, follow patients in hospital, and work in the clinic makes for excellent learning.
“All of the family physicians, general surgeons, visiting specialists, and nurse practitioners are excellent teachers and I am grateful to have worked with each and every one,” Edwards added.
“It makes for a busy year as we also have a school curriculum to cover, but it was still an exceptional year in my opinion,” she remarked.
“I thoroughly enjoyed my time in Fort Frances. We had great physicians, nurse practitioners, nurses, and allied health-care professionals to work with.
“I would definitely recommend Fort Frances to other NOSM students,” Edwards stressed.
The experience exceeded her expectations, noted Lowey-Bodkin, who also 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.
“The last 30 weeks has been a phenomenal learning experience,” she enthused. “The physicians were extremely supportive in helping me to meet my learning objectives.
“The hospital and clinic staff was always welcoming, and definitely helped to make my experience a positive one.
“The hospital is small enough that you don’t feel overwhelmed, but you are able get diverse
exposure to the emergency room, operating room, clinic, in-patient care and obstetrics,” she reasoned.
Lowey-Bodkin said everyone she met in the Fort Frances was so welcoming and always made her feel at home.
“I have to mention all the patients that I had the opportunity to interact with and thank them for allowing me to participate in their care,” she continued.
“It is an important part of learning medicine that we always take for granted, and Fort Frances can take pride that they are helping to train and grow the future physicians of Northern Ontario.
“For that we are extremely grateful.”
Lowey-Bodkin also said she would “absolutely recommend” that other NOSM students come to Fort Frances.
“Fort Frances has a lot to offer medical students,” she noted. “We were extremely fortunate that because there was only two students placed in Fort Frances, we got far more exposure than other students in communities that had up to eight students.”
As for highlights, Edwards said “that’s a tough one.”
“I had some pretty interesting days while in Fort Frances,” she recalled. “The last month or so saw some rare and unusual cases come through the hospital and those were certainly highlights for me.”
“In terms of allied health professionals, it’s a toss-up between my ride-along with paramedics, Kristi and Mel, and my time with the two nurse practitioners [Marlyss Thiessen and Cathy Bock] and the Family Health Team,” Edwards noted.
“There are too many highlights to pick just a selected one,” reasoned Lowey-Bodkin. “However, I have an interest in obstetrics and I was able to participate in numerous deliveries during my time here.”
Aside from work, Edwards called her stay here “a great experience.”
“I made a couple of good friends and enjoyed my time,” she remarked. “I love the outdoors, in general, so the area in and of itself is really nice for me.
“I played a lot of hockey at the outdoor rinks when the weather was reasonable, and biked daily in the fall and spring.
“Any meal out was a highlight for me; the local medical professionals are very good cooks,” Edwards added.
Lowey-Bodkin said she also enjoyed her time off the job during the eight months spent in Fort Frances.
“In my spare time, I would go to Energy Fitness and found myself at the library studying,” she noted.
“I participated in the ‘Freeze Yer Gizzard’ Run in International Falls in January. It was cold but a great event,” added Lowey-Bodkin.
When asked whether they would consider coming back to work here down the road, or just to visit, Edwards replied, “I have considered coming back to work.”
“I will be in Fort Frances for three weeks over the summer for another placement,” she noted.
“I would definitely consider coming back to Fort Frances to work in the future,” echoed Lowey-Bodkin.
“My experience was extremely positive and I enjoyed working with all the physicians, clinic, and hospital staff.
“Fort Frances is a great place to work and live,” she enthused.
“I have family in Fort Frances, so I will be back to visit. However, next time I come back to visit, it will be in the summer so I can enjoy some time on the lake!”
Edwards and Lowey-Bodkin were given a farewell barbecue on April 14 at the home of Dr. Jason Shack.