News at Medicine - July 2014 - Rural teaching site engages medical students and trainees

Rural teaching site engages medical students and trainees
July 23, 2014
Twillingate is well-known for its scenic beauty, especially the icebergs that crowd the harbour this time of year and draw tourists. What is not so well-known is that the community’s Notre Dame Bay Memorial Health Centre is a model rural teaching site for Memorial’s Faculty of Medicine. 
Medical students and postgraduate trainees (residents) come to Twillingate to learn about rural medicine, and some residents spend up to a year in the community as part of their training.
Under senior physician Dr. Mohamed Ravalia, the four doctors on staff are all MUN graduates. Dr. Rav, as he is known around the hospital, is engaging and fully committed to Twillingate and to rural medical education. Originally from Zimbabwe, he came to Newfoundland following postgraduate training in the United Kingdom and settled in this small rural community 30 years ago. He’s created a warm and inviting educational environment, and Twillingate is a favourite place for rural electives.

Marilyn Rideout, administrative assistant (Twillingate) for the Rural Medical Education Network (RMEN) with Dr. Ravalia, assistant dean for RMEN.
Dr. Mike Keough, who earned his MD at Memorial in 2008 and finished his family medicine residency in 2010, has been working in Twillingate ever since. “I was here as a resident and loved the community – Dr. Ravalia is a great preceptor and creates a comfortable, supportive environment.

”A diverse practice that includes outpatient clinics and emergency room coverage is all part of Dr. Keough’s life. He is also a teacher for medical students and residents. “I love the teaching and the students get to do a lot of procedures that they wouldn’t get to do in an urban setting. After four years here I know I’ve made a great decision.”
Dr. Colin Newman, who grew up in Grand Falls, is another Memorial graduate who has settled in Twillingate. He finished his family medicine residency in 2012 and has worked at the Notre Dame Memorial Centre ever since. “The work is challenging, but we all feel like we are using all our skills. It can be daunting at times, but it is a huge learning experience.

”As well as Drs. Keough and Newman, the other two physicians on staff are also graduates of Memorial – Dr. Andrew Hunt and Dr. Jason Mackey, who both earned their MD at Memorial in 2009 and settled in Twillingate after their family medicine residency.
“After three decades, our hospital is now fully staffed with doctors trained at Memorial,” said Dr. Ravalia, who is also assistant dean for the Faculty of Medicine’s Rural Medical Education Network. “This is a great example of the success of the medical school’s program, which encourages medical students and family medicine residents to do much of their training in rural communities and then set up practice in rural Newfoundland and Labrador.”
Victor Shea, director of health services (Central Health) for the Isles of Notre Dame, said one of the reasons he enjoys his job is that Twillingate is a teaching centre. He noted that Central Health and Memorial University work together to provide accommodations and facilities for medical students and residents, as well as dedicated space for study and internet connection with the medical school curriculum.

Mr. Shea, who was born in Twillingate and began his career as a social worker, worked in the health care field in Manitoba for many years before deciding to return home in 2009.  “I wanted to take on the challenges facing rural Newfoundland. While we’ve succeeded in attracting new graduates Memorial to Twillingate, we still need to find a way to attract doctors to more isolated communities like Fogo Island, which depend heavily on international medical graduates who do not stay long in the community.”

Mr. Shea has nothing but praise for Dr. Ravalia. “He has worked tirelessly for 30 years to bring our own medical students and residents to Twillingate and give them a positive experience. He understands the challenges of rural health – right now we have the oldest demographic in a province that has the highest aging population and the highest rate of diabetes. People need consistency in their health care providers – we’ve been able to do that at the Notre Dame Memorial Health Centre and now it’s time to extend that success to other rural communities.”
 It takes a team – physicians, nurses and allied health professionals work closely together at the Notre Dame Memorial Health Centre