The Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA) is working to get more doctors to rural and remote communities.

One of the initiatives being used to do this involves bringing medical students to communities and allowing them to tour medical facilities and other sites of interest. Dr. Sean Groves, who practices medicine in La Ronge and also serves as the chair of the SMA’s committee on rural and regional practice told MBC Radio News it is good to expose medical students to experiences when they are starting out in their careers.

“It’s been a great way to connect with medical students, especially early in their training when they are kind of still feeling out what their careers might look like, thinking about how the practice of medicine might evolve over time for them,” he said.

Recently students visited Prince Albert and the surrounding area as part of the program which involved the medical students getting a tour of the Victoria Hospital.

When deciding what sites to take medical students to for tours, Groves explained the focus is on places where medical residencies are offered.

“We have a number of sites across the province that train residents in family medicine, to prepare them for real careers in family medicine,” he said.

Groves said rural and remote residencies are good training grounds for resident physicians and allow them to develop a stronger skill set. He added medical residents are also more likely to stay and practice in the last place where they worked during their residency, which adds another potentially positive impact for communities.

The Road Map initiative is one which Groves has seen have a positive impact with his own eyes.

“Just thinking about my own practice, we have a physician in our practice right now, who says all the time the reason he’s practicing in La Ronge is because of the Road Map Tour,” he said.

(Top Photo. Students visiting La Ronge as part of the Road Map Initiative. Photo Courtesy of SMA Facebook.)