Medical student visits Wingham for Discovery Week
BY DENNY SCOTT
Last week the Wingham Listowel Hospitals Alliance welcomed Max Matyashin, a medical student from the University of Western Ontario, for Discovery Week.
Matyashin, who immigrated to Richmond Hill from Ul’yanovsk, a city in Russia, has been studying in London for five years after graduating from elementary and high school in Richmond Hill, and came to Wingham to experience a different kind of medicine, different patients and a different hospital system than what he might see in London.
Matyashin’s family moved out of Russia, looking for a new place to call home after the collapse of the Soviet Union, and Canada was the first country to welcome them.
“As soon as we could, we got on a plane here,” he said, adding his family has been in Richmond Hill since he was in Grade 4.
Medicine is a family field for Matyashin, whose parents were both neurologists in Russia.
“I grew up in hospitals,” he said. “The nurses were my babysitters. During elementary and high school, I questioned my future, and had interests outside of medicine, but I started to realize that medicine doesn’t always mean being in a hospital.”
The medical student wants to work in emergency medicine and trauma surgery, saying part of what drew him to the field is that he loves helping people in a hand’s on way.
While there may be more trauma cases in a larger city centre like London, Matyashin said that he has learned, from his time in Wingham, that trauma happens everywhere. On top of that, the limited staff pool of the area means that doctors need to be “a jack of all trades”, and that’s an aspect of medicine he found he really enjoys.
He said he would consider returning to rural medicine as a locum physician, in hopes of getting “the best of both worlds” when it comes to medical experience.
He said that, because of the hands-on experiences offered freely to him last week, he was able to get more time working in operating rooms than he had in his months in London.
His week started off with time in the local family clinic, meeting patients for a variety of reasons, and he then worked in the emergency room, realizing that some of the patients you would see in the family clinic would be the same as the ones in the ER.
“That continuation of care is great,” he said. “It was good to see such a great familiarity with the people you’re seeing.”
He spent a whole day in the operating room, observing hernia operations and colonoscopies. The experience was a good one, he said, because he’s also interested in surgery.
“It was a great experience to go into the operating room, meet all the nurses and get the lay of the land,” he said. “It’s been very difficult to get into an [operating room in London] with all the approvals and authorizations necessary…. Here, I spent an entire day, [8 a.m. to 5 p.m.], there. The vast majority of my experience in that field is now in rural medicine.”
Matyashin was surprised at the breadth of services available to patients in the area, saying that, when he learned about rural medicine, the picture that was drawn for him was one of having little in terms of equipment or services.
“Once you get here, you realize there is a lot available,” he said, adding that much of the services are provided through co-operation across multiple sites. “The resources may not be as extensive, but there is a lot you can do and I wasn’t expecting that.”
Matyashin also got to experience some very different patient populations, saying that the injuries weren’t as unique as the people who presented with them.
“The injuries are similar to the city, but where [they happen] is different,” he said. “Injuries in the ER happened on farms, but in London, most of the injuries happen at an office or workplace.”
Matyashin also spent time with a local doctor visiting area Mennonite and Amish farms, and said those kinds of home visits were very unique.
Overall, Matyashin said the experience was an important one and he appreciated the opportunity to get out of the London area and see rural medicine.
Discovery Week is geared to bringing rural and regional medicine to the forefront of discussions about the future of health in Canada.
According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, nearly 18 per cent of Canadians (six million) live in rural and remote communities and fewer than 10 per cent of physicians practise in those areas.
Thirty-three communities participated in Discovery Week from “Windsor to Wiarton” according to a press release issued by Wingham and District Hospital Recruitment Officer Jan McKague Weishar and Schulich Medicine and Dentistry ‘s Communications and Marketing Director Jennifer Parraga.
“Discovery Week allows our students to understand the opportunities and challenges of rural and regional medicine,” said Dr. George Kim, Assistant Dean of Distributed Education at Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Western Ontario. “We are so pleased to be able to work in collaboration with our partners across the region to provide future physicians with this important learning opportunity.”
According to the release, research has shown that physicians are more likely to choose to practise in rural and remote areas if they have positive experiences in similar areas during medical school.