Mikaela Forkheim moved to Rossland at the beginning of the month as part of the UBC Integrated Clinical Clerkship Program. She is a third year medical student who enjoys rock climbing

Learning medicine in the Kootenays

Mikaela Forkheim moved to Rossland at the beginning of the month as part of the UBC Integrated Clinical Clerkship Program.

Chelsea Novak

Rossland News

Mikaela Forkheim moved to Rossland the day before Canada Day. To get to know people, she decided to do the Canada Day Mt. Roberts hike.

It worked, and she ended up going on another hike with someone she met there. She’s also done yoga, Aquafit, trail running, and rock climbing.

Forkheim is a medical student, and moved here as part of the UBC Integrated Clinical Clerkship Program. Since Canada Day, she’s been joined by two other medical students with whom she shares a house. As part of the program, all three will be completing their third year medical internships in the Kootenays, and are currently stationed at the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital (KBRH) in Trail and the Kootenay Lake Hospital in Nelson.

Forkheim explains the approach to the internships is different in rural communities than in larger urban centres.

“In the city, they would kind of go out to a bunch of different hospitals, and do like six weeks in one specialty, and six weeks in another specialty. We kind of do it all smooshed together,” says Forkheim. “We’ve got little rotations. So I might do a week in anesthesia, and then a couple of weeks in orthopedics, and then kind of switch around.”

The third year internships are an opportunity for medical students to try a variety of specialties, and find out what interests them. Right now Farkheim is interested in emergency medicine, but she says that could change. She’s also interested in finding out if she likes rural practice.

Farkheim enjoys rock climbing, hiking and backpacking, so Rossland definitely suits her interests — she just needs to see whether or not working in a rural hospital is for her.

She’ll get the chance to compare her experience in the Kootenays to working in a bigger centre during her fourth year, when she’ll start to specialize, and get experience working in larger hospitals.

So far Farkheim’s done a rotation in anesthesia and has taken a course in advanced cardiac life support.

“Most of the time you wouldn’t do that until you’re a resident, but they really wanted us to be able to be involved in all the different things that happen in the hospital,” she says. “This kind of certification is going to help me to be a lot more useful and to learn a lot better, especially once serious stuff comes in.”

Farkheim feels being in the Kootenays has given her a lot of opportunities to be hands on, very quickly.

There’s also been a little bit of culture shock, as Forkheim has never lived in a small town before. She grew up in Calgary, and then moved to Vancouver. But she says that everyone has made her feel very welcome.

“People have been so friendly, and so willing to kind of take me in, and just have me over for dinner or teach me to do different things, and just invite me along and welcome me into the community,” she says.

Forkheim says Rossland also offers the chance to observe doctors balancing life with work, instead of burning themselves out.

“It’s a really good opportunity to see that modeled and to see ways that you can integrate having a family and having a life with your work,” she says.



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