November 26 2018

What does a giant red paper clip (approximate weight 3000 lbs.), a three year old hospital and health students from southern Saskatchewan all have in common? The answer is simple, it’s Kipling.

This rural community, located approximately 200 kilometres southeast of Regina, was home to all three on October 20, 2018 thanks to the second Rural Skills Tour, co-hosted by Health Careers in Saskatchewan, saskdocs and the Saskatchewan Health Authority.

A total of 16 students studying to be doctors, nurses and paramedics participated in the tour, which involved: a morning filled with hands-on skills training; a tour of the Kipling Integrated Health Facility; a guided tour of the town; a visit to a local, haunted church; and, an amazing race that allowed the students to experience a little more of Kipling and a little more learning.

“Some of the feedback we received on the first Rural Skills Tour, which was held in the Battlefords last March, indicated that students really liked the hands on training,” said Heather Friday, Director of Health Careers in Saskatchewan and saskdocs. “SHA staff were great. They held a simulated emergency response the first thing when we arrived that morning so students got a firsthand look at what an actual emergency situation would look like in Kipling.”

After the simulated event the students were split into different groups to try a variety of hands-on experiences like how to suture a wound, do a tracheal intubation and how to cast a broken limb. Because the students were split into groups each one of them got to experience each simulation so none of them missed out on a learning opportunity.

Luda Zvizdun is a Registered Psychiatric Nurse (RPN) student studying in Regina, a high demand profession. She visited Kipling before the Rural Skills Tour, but that was before she started training. Now she wants to see what the community has to offer in terms of work-life balance as a nurse so she can consider a community like this once she completes her training.

“I’m a newcomer to Canada so I decided to totally change my career because I prefer to work with people other than just numbers and Psychiatric nursing is something I think that is very, very important. I came here to find out how is it different to be where there are not so many medical specialists around and there is so much on your own shoulders,” said Zvizdun.

Twenty-seven per cent of the tour participants indicated they were “very interested” in working in rural health care before they started experiencing Kipling. When the day was done the level of interest climbed to 47 per cent. Participants gave feedback that described the day as “amazing, cool, I loved how the community was so involved, surprised and fun.”

“Kipling was a great place to hold this tour,” said Bonnie Haus, who shared a personal experience of how she really wanted to be a Registered Nurse (RN) in rural, but was intimidated about applying for certain positions.

Now working as a RN in southeast Saskatchewan Haus has experience in rural medicine. What Haus liked best about the tour was how welcoming and appreciative the people of Kipling were to the students and how great of a place it would be to start a career in medicine.

“Kipling has a three year old, integrated health care facility which offers diverse job opportunities in one location. In my opinion it seems like an excellent health centre and welcoming community. My main take-away from the tour was the difference between urban and rural health care, in rural you are a ‘jack-of-all-trades’ health-care professional, you are able to utilize your full skill-set you have from your education and much more, this was illustrated by the advanced practice skills stations at the facility.  Kipling is definitely rural being over an hour away from Regina or Estevan, but it has everything you need, even a Tim Horton’s!”

In addition to learning hands-on skills students toured a local historic site – the Bekevar Presbyterian Church – and were given a personal tour of the entire community. After the tour the students participated in an “Amazing Race” game that had them walk throughout the town to find clues, learn some more nuggets about rural medicine and be treated to Kipling hospitality at Nevada’s Bar and Grill.

Everyone went home with a bottle of pure Kipling water, a red-paper clip t-shirt, chocolate, a new medical skill and a taste for health care in rural Saskatchewan.

View a video of the day’s events and stay tuned for further details about the next tour ready to hit rural Saskatchewan in 2019.