Medical students shadow Cambridge doctors as ROMP week gets underway

Ten medical students from the University of Ottawa have been paired with the medical team at Cambridge Memorial Hospital for the Rural Ontario Medical Program. (Carmen Groleau/CBC - image credit)
Ten medical students from the University of Ottawa have been paired with the medical team at Cambridge Memorial Hospital for the Rural Ontario Medical Program. (Carmen Groleau/CBC - image credit)

The Rural Ontario Medical Program, also known as ROMP Week, kicked off Monday, giving first-year medical students across Ontario a glimpse into what life would be like practising medicine in a smaller community.

Ten medical students from the University of Ottawa have been paired with the medical team at Cambridge Memorial Hospital for the program.

Donna Gravelle, a physician recruiter with Doctors 4 Cambridge, said in addition to being introduced to the medical team, the students are also being introduced to the city and community.

"We feel we are a bit unique in that we have a very congenial medical community between the family doctors and the physicians, so we just wanted to show them outside of their cities … that there are other communities for them to look at when they graduate," Gravelle said on CBC K-W's The Morning Edition.

LISTEN | Donna Gravelle, a physician recruiter with Doctors 4 Cambridge speaks about ROMP Week:

Gravelle said the first item on the agenda is a scavenger hunt around the city on Monday. On Tuesday and part of the day Wednesday, the students will shadow family physicians. They will end the day Wednesday touring Langdon Hall and canoeing down the Grand River, weather permitting.

Gravelle said the students will be able to shadow a specialist at Cambridge Memorial Hospital on Thursday and will close out the week by participating in a suturing clinic at the hospital on Friday.

Benefits of practising in a rural community hospital

Gravelle said there are many benefits to practising medicine in a community hospital.

"Our family doctors get to know the specialists quite well, which is very advantageous to the patients as well," she said.

"I think just our city alone is a selling feature where we're situated on [Highway] 401, we're close to Toronto, we have all the major amenities that most large communities have …the river that we have and all the trails and parks."

Gravelle said ROMP Week is an opportunity to introduce the students to the different specialties that are available to them.

Premier Doug Ford's government has been facing a fresh push to make family practice more attractive to physicians by improving compensation, as the number of people across Ontario without a family doctor reaches a record high.

Physicians have been arguing that compensation is one of the key root causes why at least 2.2 million Ontarians don't have a family doctor, a number forecast to nearly double in just a few years.

In March Ford told CBC News his government is committed to supporting family doctors.

"I want to thank them all, they do an incredible, incredible job. You're all absolute champions," Ford said.