A Growing Family in Gatineau
There is a palpable passion for family medicine at UMF-Gatineau. Since 1988, when the Unité de Médecine Familiale (Family Medicine Unit) was founded in affiliation with McGill, local doctors and educators have focused on one critical goal: to create more general practitioners. Over 20 years later, with more students than expected coming to train in the region, with the exciting new Campus santé Outaouais partnership yielding results, and with more doctors choosing to stay and practise, it’s easy to understand the reason behind so many enthusiastic smiles at the health centre.
How to explain the success?
“There is no big pyramid,” explains Gilles Brousseau, director of medical education for Campus santé, as well as assistant dean of medical education for the Campus santé Outaouais at McGill’s Faculty of Medicine. “The student is close to the patient and to the specialist or family doctor.”
The proximity that students enjoy with patients and professionals in their field was one of the foreseen advantages of Campus santé – now entering its third year. Campus santé Outaouais is a partnership of 12 health, social services and educational institutions (including McGill, Cégep de l’Outaouais, Collège Heritage, Université du Québec, among others) working cohesively to improve the region’s capacity to meet its local health needs. A new flagship program of Campus santé is the Integrated Clerkship, under development for a year and now welcoming its first cohort of medical students.
“The first year was a year of promotion and of explaining how the program would work,” says Brousseau. These efforts have paid off. The program has recruited nine McGill students for the 2010/2011 year. The health centre, which is both a family medicine clinic and instructional centre, buzzes with purposeful and positive activity.
Suzanne Bouchard, medical director of UMF-Gatineau, as well as a practising doctor, explains her job as a leader and guide for the students who train in the region, as well as the liaison back to McGill. “In essence, we share with them our passion, because this is the best job in the world,” she says.
Guylaine Proulx and Véronique Lapointe, young doctors who have chosen to stay in the region since finishing their residencies, are just two of several front line mentors that can encourage and help guide residents along their career paths. They take time away from their full-time clinical work to listen and respond to concerns and questions. “It’s very varied work,” say Lapointe.
Over 250,000 Quebeckers – a mixture of urban and rural dwellers – call the Gatineau region home. The graduates of the family medicine residency program at UMFGatineau have been retained in the region at a rate of over 80 per cent. Since the family health centre’s affiliation with McGill University in 1988, over 100 family doctors have been trained here, and over 81 are still practising locally. As well as being a popular destination for residents in family medicine, the health centre also oversees 10 residents per month in other disciplines such as Internal Medicine, Pediatrics, Surgery, Anesthesia, Obstetrics and Gynecology and Psychiatry.
According to Guylaine Thériault, a doctor as well as the instructor of a course on evidence-based medicine, the attraction of staying in Gatineau can be explained by that one all-important word: family. “It’s a region that’s made for families,” she says.
“There’s everything here – bike trails, parks, activities for children, activities for families.” Numerous new doctors have already discovered for themselves the truth in these words, and with the ongoing success in Gatineau, many more are set to join them in the years to come.