Posted on July 27, 2020

A relationship with the Sarnia Lambton Physician Recruitment Task Force formed with an overseas medical school could pay future dividends for the community.

Of six Visiting Elective Program spots this year matching fourth-year medical students with local family physicians, three are from the Royal College of Surgeons of Ireland (RCSI) and have been spending four weeks this summer living in Sarnia observing and learning from  Dr. John O’Mahony.

Recruiter Carly Cox said the task force actually awarded six visiting elective bursaries this year, but some of the students weren’t able to take part because of the pandemic.

Three of the recipients currently in the community are attending medical school in Ireland but are from the Toronto area, she said.

“These are spots that are very difficult to come by because physicians do not get paid to train these individuals,” Cox said.

Also, the program the visiting electives usually go at through at Western University’s medical school was canceled because of the pandemic.

“We had our RCSI students reach out to us individually and say, ‘I’m still very interested in doing the elective. Can we do it privately?’”

Because the three students were already home from Ireland, restrictions preventing students from overseas traveling to Canada weren’t an obstacle.

Cox said the task force worked with the RCSI to ensure the students were able to still take part in the placement in Sarnia, where they have been able to observe many aspects of clinical practice, emergency medicine, nursing home care and obstetrics with O’Mahony

“Sarnia Lambton has so much to offer from a lifestyle perspective and our amazing medical community,” O’Mahony said. “You would not be able to appreciate what Sarnia Lambton has to offer unless you spend time in the community meeting our citizens and working in our great hospital.”

The program allows the task force to introduce medical students to Lambton as a potential place to live and set up practice in the future.

“It’s really important we expose them to what a lifestyle is like here because it’s so competitive,” Cox said. “If we make a connection with them in medical school, stay connected with them through their residency, we hope they’ll practice here.”

The fourth-year students taking part in the visiting elective program are at least three years away from beginning their practices, she said.

The RCSI students spending time in Sarnia this summer – William Elia, Samuel Goh, and Vladimir Djedovic – indicated on their applications they had an interest in working in smaller communities and taking advantage of the wider scope they can offer a family practice.


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