Rural Family Practice Clerkship in Qualicum, BC
By Rob Trasolini, third year Southern Medical Program student
Imagining life as a small town family doctor has always been a fun pastime for me but, this summer I was lucky enough to spend a month in Qualicum Beach learning what the real thing is like.
I knew I would enjoy my time right off the bat as the weather was great, the ocean was beautiful and, thanks to small town hospitality, I was able to stay in a beachside apartment on the cheap. Within a week I even took a boat trip down the straight of Georgia and delivered my first 13-pound salmon from the water and onto a dinner table. After work, bike rides and strolls down the beach became part of my routine.
The doctors were incredibly welcoming and the patients were all very excited to have learners in their community. More than a few locals even eagerly asked when I would start taking new patients!
I spent most days in the office, which was a full service family practice. I saw patients ranging from pregnant women and children to complex care geriatrics and really had a chance to practice all of the procedures and clinical skills I’d spent the last two years honing. With such a broad range of patients I never got bored and learned something new every day. As time went on, my preceptor gave me more responsibilities and one of the highlights of the trip was getting to a point where I was making diagnoses and management plans with only minimal supervision. It was a really great way to start third year.
Another great part of the trip was that I got some insight into life as a family doctor and saw some of huge range of options for practice. My primary preceptor spent weekends in the urgent care centre and did a lot of in-office procedures, another doctor did addictions medicine and was doing some incredible work with under-serviced populations. All of the doctors played an active role in designing their local healthcare system and invited me to one of their meetings to see how decisions are made.
Overall, I was thoroughly impressed with the interesting challenges and opportunities of family medicine in a small town and so grateful to the town of Qualicum Beach and all the doctors I worked with.