THUNDER BAY – HEALTH – First-year medical students at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) spend four weeks in an Indigenous community during one of their Integrated Clinical Experience (ICE) modules. Each of the communities that host students has a Local Community Coordinator (LCC) to help orient the students and support them during their experience in the Indigenous community.
Each year, medical students, faculty, staff, Elders, and LCCs come together for a two-day workshop to prepare students for their time in the Indigenous communities. This workshop—led and coordinated by NOSM’s Office of Indigenous Affairs with the support of Learner Affairs and Undergraduate Medical Education—enables students to meet the LCCs for their host community and ask questions about what to expect while on placement. This year’s workshop was held February 22 and 23 at the medical school buildings in Sudbury at Laurentian University and in Thunder Bay at Lakehead University.
Elder Perry McLeod-Shabogesic from Nipissing First Nation and Elder Audrey DeRoy from Lac des Mille Lacs First Nation were in attendance to support the students in learning about Indigenous culture, language, and communities. Experienced LCCs, Leah Migwans from M’Chigeeng First Nation and Bernadette Wabange from Migisi Sahgaigan (Eagle Lake First Nation), shared their experiences with NOSM medical students over the years as a learning opportunity for new LCCs.
“Miigwetch to all the Local Community Coordinators who work tirelessly to ensure that medical students at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine have incredible learning opportunities while living and learning in an Indigenous community,” says Tina Armstrong, NOSM’s Director of Indigenous Affairs. “Students experience the realities of life and health-care delivery in their host community—learning that can’t take place in a traditional classroom setting.”
Immersion in remote and rural Indigenous communities broadens students’ cultural awareness and strengthens their communications skills. These are integral skills for effective medical practise in Northern Ontario.