Prairie Post (East Edition)

Swift Cur­rent physi­cian re­ceives na­tional med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion award

- By Matthew Lieben­berg mlieben­berg@prairiepos­ Health · Medicine · College · Higher Education · Swift Current · Saskatchewan · Saskatoon · Albert King · Battleford · University of Saskatchewan · University of Saskatchewan College of Medicine · Prince Albert · North Battleford · Moose Jaw · Regina · Meadow Lake

Swift Cur­rent physi­cian Dr. Tara Lee has re­ceived na­tional recog­ni­tion for her lead­er­ship role in med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion in Saskatchew­an.

She is a re­cip­i­ent of the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion for Med­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion (CAME) Cer­tifi­cate of Merit Award for 2021.

This CAME award has been pre­sented an­nu­ally since 2002 to fac­ulty mem­bers for their com­mit­ment to med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion in Cana­dian med­i­cal schools.

Dr. Lee is the only 2021 re­cip­i­ent of the CAME Cer­tifi­cate of Merit Award af­fil­i­ated with the Uni­ver­sity of Saskatchew­an Col­lege of Medicine.

Her nom­i­na­tion for this award was sub­mit­ted by the Uni­ver­sity of Saskatchew­an Col­lege of Medicine, which made the recog­ni­tion even more spe­cial to her.

“I was re­ally hon­oured to re­ceive this award,” she said. “It's a recog­ni­tion from my col­leagues at the Col­lege of Medicine and it was a sign that ru­ral fam­ily physi­cians are ap­pre­ci­ated and our con­tri­bu­tions to aca­demic medicine are be­ing rec­og­nized. So I re­ally ap­pre­ci­ated that.”

Dr. Lee is the site di­rec­tor of the Swift Cur­rent Fam­ily Medicine Pro­gram, which she es­tab­lished in 2009.

It is one of sev­eral train­ing sites of the Depart­ment of Aca­demic Fam­ily Medicine, which is a clin­i­cal depart­ment within the Uni­ver­sity of Saskatchew­an Col­lege of Medicine.

The CAME award also rec­og­nizes Dr. Lee’s con­tri­bu­tion to dis­trib­uted med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion in the prov­ince through her po­si­tion as di­rec­tor of the Saskatchew­an Lon­gi­tu­di­nal In­te­grated Clerk­ship (SLIC), which was launched at the Col­lege of Medicine in 2018.

She re­ceived her med­i­cal de­gree through the Uni­ver­sity of Saskatchew­an and com­pleted her fam­ily res­i­dency train­ing in 2009 in Saska­toon. At the time there was only one ru­ral fam­ily res­i­dency site in Prince Al­bert, and she was asked by her su­per­vi­sor and men­tor Dr. Keith Ogle to es­tab­lish a site in Swift Cur­rent. The re­quest came as a sur­prise, but she never hes­i­tated to ac­cept the chal­lenge.

“I ba­si­cally looked at him and I just said sure,” she re­called. “At no time did I think it was a bad idea. I knew it was the right thing to do and there­fore I just put my nose to the ground and I just did it.”

The Swift Cur­rent Fam­ily Medicine Pro­gram is based out of the As­so­ci­ate Fam­ily Physi­cians Clinic, where Dr. Lee started her own med­i­cal prac­tice in 2009. She now re­al­izes it was quite a feat to es­tab­lish the pro­gram while she was work­ing in her own busy prac­tice.

“And look­ing back, I had this idea that it was very im­por­tant for my com­mu­nity,” she said. “I un­der­stood at the time that in order for a ru­ral com­mu­nity to thrive, for their health­care com­mu­nity to thrive, we needed to teach doc­tors there. I knew the sac­ri­fice that it was go­ing to re­quire was worth it, and so I re­ally was very de­ter­mined, even though I knew it was daunt­ing and it was very chal­leng­ing.”

The Uni­ver­sity of Saskatchew­an’s fam­ily medicine res­i­dency train­ing pro­gram ex­panded to three other ru­ral sites since 2009, which are lo­cated in North Battleford, La Ronge and Moose Jaw.

Dr. Lee be­lieves the pro­gram’s pres­ence in Swift Cur­rent and else­where is very im­por­tant to re­tain physi­cians who have the ex­pe­ri­ence of train­ing in a ru­ral en­vi­ron­ment.

“It's much dif­fer­ent than train­ing in an ur­ban cen­tre,” she said. “I know that, be­cause I was trained in an ur­ban cen­tre and I came back to a ru­ral prac­tice. I do see the ben­e­fit of be­ing trained in the en­vi­ron­ment that you're go­ing to prac­tice in.”

There are also wider ben­e­fits for the med­i­cal pro­fes­sion to have an aca­demic pro­gram in a com­mu­nity.

“Bring­ing an aca­demic pro­gram to a site re­ally changes that en­vi­ron­ment in a lot of ways,” she said. “You have stu­dents there with you. There­fore, you have to keep your skills up to date, you have to keep your knowl­edge up to date. There's an ex­pec­ta­tion of pro­fes­sion­al­ism and cre­at­ing that en­vi­ron­ment that is ap­pro­pri­ate to have stu­dents there. So a lot of things change in the com­mu­nity when you have your own aca­demic pro­gram. It cre­ates stan­dard ap­proaches to dif­fer­ent clin­i­cal sce­nar­ios, you start hav­ing aca­demic teach­ing.”

The Swift Cur­rent fam­ily medicine pro­gram has pro­vided train­ing to 41 res­i­dents since 2009, and ap­prox­i­mately 80 per cent of them have re­mained in ru­ral prac­tice. The pro­gram has evolved over time in re­sponse to res­i­dent's feed­back and med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion has also changed sig­nif­i­cantly.

“Com­pe­tency based medicine, which is a dif­fer­ent type of ped­a­gogy for med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion, has come into play since I've started the pro­gram,” she said. “The way we teach res­i­dents and med­i­cal school in gen­eral is chang­ing so sig­nif­i­cantly that the pro­gram has to change over time.”

The lo­ca­tion of the pro­gram in a smaller com­mu­nity re­quires more flex­i­bil­ity and an abil­ity to think out­side the box to pro­vide learn­ers with the same op­por­tu­ni­ties that are avail­able in larger ur­ban cen­tres such as Regina and Saska­toon, where there are more ca­pac­ity and learn­ing en­vi­ron­ments.

“We have been able to do that,” she said. “It sounds chal­leng­ing, but at the same time in ru­ral en­vi­ron­ments I find ac­tu­ally we have a lot of clin­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ences for the res­i­dents. They can have a lot of in­di­vid­ual teach­ing and all sorts of ben­e­fits that a ru­ral en­vi­ron­ment can pro­vide.”

The start of the pro­gram in Swift Cur­rent marked the be­gin­ning of Dr. Lee’s own jour­ney in aca­demic medicine.

“For me the chal­lenge is al­ways to bal­ance my clin­i­cal prac­tice and my aca­demic re­spon­si­bil­i­ties,” she said. “I think it's very im­por­tant when you're the leader of an aca­demic pro­gram to make sure that you main­tain your clin­i­cal skills in the en­vi­ron­ment with the res­i­dents so that they see you work­ing and you're there with them. … “You're al­ways think­ing and talk­ing about what you're do­ing, and so dou­ble check­ing your work and mak­ing sure you're do­ing the right thing. So that's very ben­e­fi­cial.”

She feels one of the big­gest ben­e­fits of her role has been the op­por­tu­nity to pro­vide a ru­ral per­spec­tive dur­ing dis­cus­sions about Col­lege of Medicine pro­gram­ming.

Dr. Lee is also con­tin­u­ing her aca­demic con­tri­bu­tion through her po­si­tion as SLIC di­rec­tor. This un­der­grad­u­ate med­i­cal ed­u­ca­tion pro­gram pro­vides a new learn­ing path for med­i­cal stu­dents, who can spend all 48 weeks of their third-year pro­gram in a sin­gle lo­ca­tion as an al­ter­na­tive to do­ing a num­ber of six-week spe­cialty-based ro­ta­tions in dif­fer­ent lo­ca­tions. The SLIC pro­gram sites are lo­cated in Este­van, Meadow Lake and Melfort, and the new­est site will be in La Ronge.

“What this type of pro­gram does is it puts you in a gen­er­al­ist en­vi­ron­ment in a ru­ral com­mu­nity and you are ex­posed to all those dis­ci­plines at one time and in one place,” she ex­plained. “So you are pro­vided a bit more in­de­pen­dence and more re­spon­si­bil­ity.”

Dr. Lee feels con­fi­dent about the fu­ture of the fam­ily medicine res­i­dency train­ing pro­gram in Swift Cur­rent and its con­tri­bu­tion towards ru­ral physi­cian re­cruit­ment.

“We've been very suc­cess­ful with our pro­gram,” she said. “It's been a shin­ing light in our med­i­cal com­mu­nity and we've been able to re­tain a lot of re­ally great physi­cians that have gone above and be­yond in dif­fer­ent parts of our com­mu­nity, as well as through­out our prov­ince, and so I think it's a very suc­cess­ful model of ru­ral train­ing. I see it con­tin­u­ing for years and years. I can't see that there would ever not be a need to pro­vide ru­ral ed­u­ca­tion.”

 ?? Photo con­trib­uted ?? Swift Cur­rent physi­cian Dr. Tara Lee is a re­cip­i­ent of the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion for Med­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion (CAME) Cer­tifi­cate of Merit Award for 2021.
Photo con­trib­uted Swift Cur­rent physi­cian Dr. Tara Lee is a re­cip­i­ent of the Cana­dian As­so­ci­a­tion for Med­i­cal Ed­u­ca­tion (CAME) Cer­tifi­cate of Merit Award for 2021.

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