University of Calgary

Family medicine job-shadowing

December 2, 2010

Family medicine job-shadowing

By Marta Cyperling

Dr. David Keegan is the Undergraduate Education Director in the Department of Family Medicine. Photo courtesy of Dr. David KeeganDr. David Keegan is the Undergraduate Education Director in the Department of Family Medicine. Photo courtesy of Dr. David KeeganThe University of Calgary’s Faculty of Medicine is exposing students to family medicine practice and clinical skills in their first year of medical school through a new mandatory clinical course. All 170 first year medical students at the U of C are currently partnered one-on-one with a family practitioner and spend five half days at the clinic over the several months of their first year medical school. Most of the course is job-shadowing family doctors and observing clinical encounters.

“Medical students who are exposed to family medicine early in education and training may be more likely to choose family medicine as a career,” says Dr. David Keegan, undergraduate education director in the Department of Family Medicine. “This is part of our ongoing strategy to encourage our students to consider careers in family medicine and at the same time provide them with a great clinical learning experience.”

Matthew Grossi is a medical student who has been a part of the Family Medicine Clinical Experience course for about four months. “I am in my first year of medical school. At this point, I think I have some ideas of what I may end up specializing in, however, it is difficult to know for sure since I am always being exposed to new things that spark my interests,” he says. “I have noticed family medicine allows you to easily establish longitudinal relationships with your patients. It was also quite apparent the broad spectrum of skills that family doctors must have in order to practice effectively, as there is such a large range of illnesses and ailments that must be dealt with.”

Under supervision, students in the program get to practice basic medical skills such as taking a detailed history, listening to heart and lung sounds, recording blood pressure, and seeing how a doctor interacts with their patients. As a result, students are exposed to the real time patient care.

In 2008, 18.4 per cent of Faculty of Medicine graduates chose family medicine as a career path. Ideally the number will increase to 50 per cent.

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