Medical students 'discover' Tillsonburg's hospital

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Tillsonburg District Memorial Hospital has concluded Discovery Week, providing an educational experience to four first-year medical students from the University of Western Ontario.

While in Tillsonburg this past week, the Class of 2017 students received their first hands-on experience with medicine, and learned about 'rural' medicine from those living it.

It wasn't all work, however. In addition to learning about rural medicine, there was time for recreational activities... and fun.

"Yes to both," smiled Jason Boudreau.

"In first year we don't get too much clinical experience, unless we organize it on our own time," said Boudreau. "So to spend the whole week just following doctors around, and seeing what they do was pretty neat."

"And when we do organize our own observerships, they tend to be very focused on one area," said Sonia Poenaru. "So we'll cardiology or we'll do resp... here we got to follow doctors around the entire health care procedure. It was great to see that aspect of medicine as well."

"For me, I've never been inside an O.R. (operating room) before," said Nanxi Zha. "So it was nice to not only see one, but also to be so close to it. Closer than I would have at a bigger hospital, for sure."

The Discovery Week program is fully supported by TDMH's medical staff, providing the students with learning experiences that focused on four areas – becoming familiar with rural/regional medical practice; inter-professional education and care within rural/regional health; acute and/or chronic care; and dealing with diverse populations. At TDMH, the students worked in, and alongside, out-patient clinics, specialists, family physicians and emergency departments.

Two of the UWO students were from London, one from Burlington, and the other from Toronto. Shizar Goosheh was the only one of the four who had been to Tillsonburg prior to Discovery Week.

"It's really, really nice," said Poenaru, from Toronto. "And everyone's been extremely accommodating. They've really gone out of their way to take us to see the nice things in Tillsonburg, and we really appreciate that."

The group went golfing at Otter Creek Wednesday – with no previous golfing experience.

"They took us out anyway – it was fun," said Boudreau.

"On the first day we got a tour of the town," said Zha. "The Community Centre, all the trails..."

"Oh yeah, saw lots of baby geese," nodded Poenaru.

"Goslings," Boudreau corrected.

"Okay, goslings," Poenaru laughed.

It's all part of the Discovery Week package, helping them to understand how patient care is delivered out of the major urban centres.

"I could see myself in both, a city or a community like this," said Goosheh. "I'm not sure yet. I don't know where I'll end up 10 years from now, so I can't really say. But I like 'local' settings, for sure."

"I think what was nice about this week," said Boudreau, "is that in a lot of our education, through the tertiary care centre in London, you see a lot of specific medicine... and you get a sense of how it works in an academic university setting. Then you come to a community like this and you learn what the family physicians do here and how closely they interact with the hospital, and what physicians they have on staff here at the hospital, how they run the ICU, how does internal medicine work here, what kind of surgeries do they perform here, what do they refer out? Learning that is helpful for students to figure out what they want to do."

"It was nice, even though we were only an hour away from London," said Zha, "to stay here, to really get a sense what it's like to live here."



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