The Sunrise Health Region played host to some important young visitors Saturday.
A group of second year medical students from the University of Saskatchewan were in Yorkton to get a small taste of a smaller Saskatchewan city which would welcome them down the road after they graduate.
Rural Saskatchewan is not generally on the top of the list of places to establish a practice for U of S medical grads.
In fact a rather startling fact was posted on the Saskatchewan Medical Association website; that fewer than 65 program grads now practice in what is considered the rural area of the province.
We are all aware of the general difficulty to recruit doctors to Saskatchewan in general, and areas outside Regina and Saskatoon face an even more difficult challenge.
It stands to reason the most logical place to look for future doctors is within the U of S program, and the provincial government has been working in that regard expanding training seats over a range of medical professions.
Training spots are only part of the process though.
Diploma in-hand, health professionals are highly recruited. Saskatchewan is not the only jurisdiction facing shortages, and eager to attract new graduates.
So bringing students out to rural areas so they have a bit better understanding of what such areas can offer, both in terms of a medical practice, and equally important in terms of life away from a clinic, is a good process to undertake.
Kudos to the Student Medical Society of Saskatchewan for organizing the trips with funding by the Saskatchewan Medical Association.
It is equally important to see health professionals such as Dr. Phillip Fourie taking a chunk of Saturday time to help the students experience some medical skills and to share with the students what he sees in practicing in a community like Yorkton. If he has found happiness in his practice the students should recognize they can as well.
The one-day visit is only a small step in a process, but it should at least plant a seed with the students, one where they might at least include a rural Saskatchewan option into their career planning process down the road.
The visit is unlikely to singularly sway any student to a rural practice, but it might at least lay a foundation block the local Health Region recruiters can try to build a strong case for coming to the region when they graduate.