January 31 2019

Practicing Family Medicine in Rural Saskatchewan Has Many Benefits

Hear more about Dr. Lee and the benefits of practising family medicine in Swift Current by watching her video on saskdocs’ Vimeo channel.

“The diversity of practise here is really beneficial and that is a big plus when you’re a family doctor,” said Dr. Tara Lee, who practises at the Associate Family Physicians Clinic in Swift Current.

Dr. Lee and many of her colleagues deal with everything from emergency trauma to delivering babies in this southwest community. The diversity of practice is something they love about rural medicine.

“You’ll learn so much in a community like this. The diversity allows you to maintain your skills in so many ways. It allows you to explore different clinical areas you may be interested in and expands your understanding of those situations, which I think makes you a better physician,” said Dr. Lee.

Dr. Lee is originally from Swift Current. After moving away after high school to complete undergraduate work at the University of Calgary, she came home to Saskatchewan.

“Coming out of high school, I wasn’t always sure I wanted to be a doctor. It wasn’t until I completed my undergrad that I seriously started thinking about pursuing medicine as a career” said Dr. Lee. “I eventually knew that family medicine was where I wanted to be and I really can’t think of a better place to do that than in my hometown.”

In addition to the professional benefits of this community Dr. Lee and her family like the fact that Swift Current is safe and affordable and has everything she’s looking for.

“My husband and I go to great lengths to keep our kids (aged 7 and 11) physically active,” said Dr. Lee. “Swift Current has a ton of activities to keep our kids going. There’s hockey, soccer, a swim club, hiking and biking trails, golfing and a lot of events here. We try to do as many of those activities as we can in a community that really supports that lifestyle.”

Another benefit of living and working as a family physician in Swift Current is that the city is one of a few University of Saskatchewan’s (U of S) Distributed Medical Education (DME) sites.

“The DME program is quite unique for the province. The model allows medical students to complete family medicine residency training in communities outside Regina or Saskatoon.”

One of the many benefits of giving medical residents an opportunity to complete their residency training in a regional centre is the broad scope of learning, something Dr. Lee alluded to earlier. Physicians benefit from the program as well as it gives them a chance to transfer knowledge and clinical skills to residents in a personal setting; one where the doctor-student ratio is almost one-to-one.

Dr. Lee likes that. It gives her an opportunity get to know the medical students better and hopefully convince them to stay and practise in a place like Swift Current.

“One thing I always say to students is take advantage of programs that allow you to experience something different throughout your medical education. That may be rural medicine, a specialty or something you might have an interest in that isn’t typically offered through regular classes. This will help you decide what type of doctor you want to be and what type of medicine you want to practise. Being a doctor is challenging, so pursuing something you have a passion for is critical to becoming a good doctor.”