It is widely known that we have a shortage of family doctors in rural and remote areas where people are chronically underserved by limited access to healthcare. Recognizing the complexities and, despite efforts from all levels of government, medical associations and experts, this issue remains unresolved in many areas of Canada.
Today, one of our brightest students, Renee Pang (Meds‘13), is applying her studies and passion for patient advocacy to address this issue by creating an education and mentoring program called MedExplore for aboriginal students.
At Queen’s School of Medicine, and with the help of our donors, we are providing important opportunities for our medical students to explore and address issues like this both inside and outside of the classroom.
When Renee learned that medical students from rural backgrounds are 2.5 times more likely to practice in a rural community, and those from low-income backgrounds are more likely to serve disadvantaged patients, she recognized a unique opportunity.
Renee developed MedExplore to encourage rural, aboriginal high school students of low socio-economic status to pursue medical school, knowing they are more likely to establish their own practice in underserved locations. Her program is unique in Canada, and could provide an important model to improving access to healthcare for Canadians in rural and remote regions.
Over the past 18 months, Renee assembled a team of her classmates and developed the MedExplore curriculum. The team’s initial goal is to effectively reach out to aboriginal high school students full of promise.
As you read this, Renee is recruiting students to participate in the program, launching this spring. Her team is excited about the potential for improving patient care, and the more immediate benefit to the student participants.
“Working with these students and educating them about opportunities they never imagined for themselves has been an incredible experience,” Renee told me. “I knew that I would shape lives as a doctor, but I never expected to spark such a light in teenagers.”
We have a dream in the School of Medicine that defines all of our training and educational programs. Our goal is not to train doctors as good as us. We want to make doctors who are going to be better than us, doctors who will do something special, something remarkable.
I think you will agree that Renee is such a student – taking initiative and creating change. But her story is just one of many in Queen’s School of Medicine.
These students can’t do it without us. Please add your support with a gift to the Medical School Excellence Fund today.
Richard K. Reznick, MD, MEd, FRCSC, FACS, FRCSEd (hon), FRCSI (hon)
Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences
CEO, Southeastern Ontario Academic Medical Organization