Fresh off a very successful Rural Week initiative, Prairie Mountain Health (PMH) is well into another beneficial approach—the Home for the Summer Program. Home for the Summer is a joint initiative with Manitoba RHAs and the formerly known Manitoba Office of Rural and Northern Health (ORNH). ORNH is now a part of the Manitoba Health Care Providers Network.
The program provides students with hands-on clinical or site experience overseen through job shadowing roles. It originally started with medical students but now extends to nursing and allied health-care students (which includes career areas like public/community health nursing and pharmacy).
Four medical students (three in Brandon, one Dauphin) are participating in the program this year, which started June 11th and spans a period of 6-10 weeks. This year, the Nursing/Allied Health component features nine students within the health region in sites that include Brandon, Dauphin, Swan River and Virden. Students do not start or finish all at the same time. The region works with them regarding availability and how many weeks they wish to participate. The program requires a minimum six-week commitment.
PMH provides some funding support for student wages within the term positions. ORNH provides a majority share of these costs. Students originate from the area and need to be enrolled in a health care training program that fits a future need for PMH.
One example that illustrates how the initiative can come full circle, is the journey of Dr. Savana McKay, from the Swan River Valley. As a first-year medical student, McKay participated in the program in 2013. Upon graduating from medical school and completing her residency, McKay started her medical practice within the Swan Valley Primary Care Centre in the summer of 2017.
Besides valuable hands-on work experience, students are required to complete a project/or case report which are identified ahead of time with their preceptors/health region. The presentation of these projects occurs at a provincial round table session in the fall.
Last year, one of the projects involved research involving a mumps outbreak within Prairie Mountain Health. A complete background on the Home for the Summer Program, and some of the past projects associated with it, can be seen online.