Former Bracebridge Mayor Don Coates welcomes Heather Galbraith and the other students from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine who will be working with doctors in Bracebridge and Huntsville over the next eight months.
Photo by Jennifer Bowman
Friendliness and a good reputation are drawing potential doctors to Muskoka.
I don’t know if you realize, these sites are considered the best and are very competitive to get into
- Sean Bryan
Bracebridge and Huntsville welcomed eight students from the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) at the end of August in ceremonies to kick off their eight-month clerkships in the two hospitals.
With fierce competition for doctors throughout the province, Muskoka is doing what it can to give future doctors a taste of the area before they’ve chosen where they want to set up their practice.
And it’s worked. This year two students from the school’s first graduating class returned to south Muskoka to set up their practice.
That’s the kind of thing Bracebridge Deputy Mayor Rick Maloney said they’re hoping for.
“The biggest challenge for us in Bracebridge is we have a number of doctors nearing or at retirement,” he said.
Three of the students will be working primarily in Bracebridge, five of them in Huntsville.
Sean Bryan, who will be working in both towns, said the area is known to be the best teaching site and has a very good reputation with the upper year students.
“I don’t know if you realize, these sites are considered the best and are very competitive to get into,” Bryan told local politicians and community members at the ceremony.
Later he said they are taught to assess a community when they first come, looking at things like demographics and challenges. His assessment of the area brought one conclusion.
“I wish it was longer than eight months,” he said.
David Savage, who is also training in both Bracebridge and Huntsville, met some of the doctors in Huntsville before he arrived.
“There’s a bit of a draw to train with some of the doctors I’d met,” he said.
The program is not only enticing young doctors, but expanding the use of the hospitals from serving sick people to also becoming a learning environment.
Maloney tied the partnership with the school in with Georgian College and Nipissing as part of the town’s effort to grow into an area for education.
Throughout the eight months students will experience what it’s like to be part of the family practice, emergency room, physiotherapy and hospice care, among many other areas of care.
Before getting down to work, students had the opportunity to explore the friendly community they’d heard their upper classmates bragging about in a scavenger hunt around Bracebridge. The students were pleased with what they saw, many of them saying another reason they chose the area was to spend time in the great outdoors doing things such as learning how to ski, improving their golf skills, and exploring with their children.