Rural Week is a one week learning experience for all first year medical students enrolled in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Manitoba. Rural Week provides an opportunity for the students to get first-hand experience and exposure to not just rural and northern medicine but rural and northern life. It is an opportunity for participating communities to showcase themselves and promote the opportunities and benefits of rural and northern medicine.
In its first year (2003), Rural Week was an optional experience and was selected by 70% of the class. In 2004, Rural Week was approved as a component of the Med 1 curriculum and the entire class spent one week in communities in rural and northern Manitoba. The experience was planned to provide all first year medical students with a rural based clinical and community experience. Students spend the week gaining exposure to the work and lifestyle of the rural physician, and experience some aspects of rural life.
It takes the efforts of numerous preceptors, health care professionals and countless community volunteers to provide students with rural medicine and community experiences. Students are also given the opportunity to visit local high schools to provide information and encourage students to consider careers in medicine in general, and rural medicine in particular.
Overall, evaluations by students, as well as those of preceptors and communities were overwhelmingly positive. The students felt the experience was conductive to learning, provided good clinical exposure and informed them about the varied scope of rural and remote/northern medicine.
Rural Week is coordinated by the Department of Family Medicine, Max Rady College of Medicine in conjunction with Shared Health (MB Healthcare Providers Network).