They came, they visited, and they liked what they saw at the Humboldt District Health Complex (HDHC) on Saturday, August 20.
Fifty-three medical students signed up to come and see what Humboldt has to offer on the Rural Bus Tour, funded by the Saskatchewan Medical Association (SMA).
"Physician recruitment is a priority for Saskatoon Health Region and we are pleased the Student Medical Society selected Humboldt as their tour destination," said Kelvin Fisher, Director of Rural Health and Planning for Saskatoon Health Region. Fisher came with the group as one of the hosts of the tour.
Every year, a group of first-year medical students is given the opportunity to visit a rural community and its health facilities. The Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan (SMSS) organized the day that included a visit to the Humboldt medical clinic, the new hospital, lunch at the Humboldt Golf Club, and a game of paintball at the Humboldt Paintball Club.
"I'm really impressed," said Chelsea Wilgenbusch, who comes from Wilkie, Sask., a town whose population is about 1500. "It's really an eye-opener. I didn't know there were facilities like this here."
The annual bus tour is an initiative of the SMA as a means of giving more exposure to first-year students of the options available to them when they finish medical school.
"We have 61 graduates from the University of Saskatchewan currently practising in rural medicine, as rural physicians," said Karl Phillips, the SMSS representative who is responsible for organizing the annual bus tour for the students. "That is a very low number," he added.
Phillips, who is a third-year medical student, explained that the idea behind the bus tours comes from the SMA, as a means of giving new students some perception of rural facilities as soon as they start medical school.
"We want them to have it in the back of their minds as they go through their studies," said Phillips, "before going out into their careers."
For Halal El Hadi of Moose Jaw, the idea of practising in a smaller community is already one that she is considering.
Originally from the Sudan, El Hadi has been living in Canada for 12 years, and said she would like to work in a rural community hospital when she graduates.
"I've experienced first-hand the problems with shortages of doctors in hospitals," El Hadi said, "and that's one of the reasons why I want to become a doctor. Also, I come from a smaller community, and I think I'd like to go back to something like that when I finish."
That is the aim of the SMS, that and keeping home-grown talent and expertise in Saskatchewan.