Photo submitted by Crowsnest Medical Clinic.Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

Original Published on Jun 15, 2022 at 09:27

By Sean Oliver, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

The journey through medical school is an arduous one, but good teachers can make the difference — especially during a physician’s residency.

Crowsnest Medical Clinic has dedicated itself to providing an excellent learning environment for student physicians. Last month, the clinic’s efforts were formally recognized with the University of Calgary’s Cumming School of Medicine Rural Family Medicine Clinic of the Year award.

The award is given annually to a clinic nominated by U of C family medicine residents based on outstanding contributions to family medicine rotations. The award highlights the efforts of every member of the clinic, says care co-ordinator Beth Pounder.

“It’s a team-based effort. Everything from our receptionists, who care greatly about the patients that come in, to the people that room you, who are passionate, who want to see you get you screening done, who want to make sure that you’re up to date and that you don’t become ill with cancer because they didn’t ask you if you’ve had your mammo this year,” says Pounder.

Dr. Vanessa Rogers, who has practiced at the clinic for the past three years, says the physicians and other staff at the clinic endeavour to establish a positive teaching environment where pre-medical, medical, and resident students feel safe to be honest about what they know.

Creating such an environment, Rogers says, sets Crowsnest Medical Clinic apart from other places she’s practiced at.

“Teaching is an integral part of the medical system, but I was surprised at how many sites I interviewed at actually discouraged me from focusing on teaching, saying things like ‘You should be focusing on your own learning first’ or ‘You’ll really have to go out of your way if you’re wanting to teach more junior learners,’ ” she recalls.

After working as a locum at the clinic, Rogers eventually signed on as a full-time physician, due in part  to the clinic’s emphasis on teaching.

“I love teaching and find the process both refreshing and rewarding,” she says. “I go into teaching with the mentality that I should be ‘real’ with my learners. I’m going to answer questions honestly, and I hope to show them both the good and bad moments in our profession.

“It’s important to see happy encounters, like the birth of a new child or someone whose disease is now in remission, but it’s equally important to see the things that make our job difficult.”

Being open about her own learning experiences and challenges, and seeking feedback on her own teaching, are ways to encourage a good learning environment, Rogers continues.

“Medicine is hard, there is a ton of pressure as a learner, and nobody can know everything about every topic; I think that acknowledging that and putting it out in the open takes a bit of the weight off and allows people to be more comfortable in their learning environment.” 

While Rogers says the award validates the clinic’s commitment to teaching, she notes the clinic’s attitude towards teaching could not exist without support from the community.

“I want to thank each and every patient who has ever agreed to see a learner, because every experience helps that learner to become a better doctor,” Roger says. 

“Overall, I think the award represents the efforts of the community as a whole to contribute to the education of new generations of physicians. Our community should be proud of this award and I think that this will continue to encourage learners to spend time with us in the Crowsnest Pass.”

From all of us at the Breeze to the Crowsnest Medical Clinic: congratulations!

This item reprinted with permission from Shootin’ the Breeze, Pincher Creek, Alberta