WDMH investment in education pays dividends

Winchester District Memorial Hospital has long been a teaching hospital and in recent years they have formalized many educational partnerships that have put this rural hospital in a position that not many other rural hospital’s enjoy.

“Every hospital has a smattering of academic affiliations, but no other hospitals our size have an academics program the scale of what we have here,” said Cholly Borland, WDMH CEO when he spoke with local media December 6. WDMH has affiliation agreements with 17 universities and colleges.

In the last 2.5 years more than 700 students have spent time at WDMH thanks to its teaching program. They have included students in more than a dozen disciplines such as medical and nursing students, student paramedics, also those studying in the fields of administration, diagnostics, pharmacy, midwifery and nutrition.

Having all these students spending time at WDMH has a huge benefit to the community. 

The role of teacher taken on by the preceptors keeps our local health care providers sharp. “Fresh blood, a second set of eyes and new ideas that students bring keeps our preceptors on their toes,” said Borland.

The exposure of so many medical students to WDMH and family medicine practices allows students to decide if rural medicine is for them, and it allows areas served by WDMH an edge in the recruiting process.

Dr. Brian Devin, who acts as WDMH site director for family medicine, knows the importance of having an exposure to rural medicine, which is his field of choice even though he is from a large city. “We’ve recruited six family physicians. and four of them are still practicing here,” said Devin. “We could always use more, but technically, we are not under-serviced right now. That shows that our investment in education does pay dividends to us.”

The students of family medicine fully appreciate the experience that WDMH offers. 

Dr. Stehpanne Brassard, a second year family medicine resident said, “I have felt like part of the team from day one.” Brassard explains that city hospitals are often filled with “the weird and wonderful” but rural hospitals offer a special experience. He explained that while he has seen a little of the weird and wonderful here, he has had so much more of a patient experience and learned a lot about continuity of care. “It’s fun when you look after someone through pregnancy, deliver their baby and then get to take care of the baby,” said Brassard. “Family medicine allows you the opportunity to practice at the full scope of your education,” added Devin.

“The health care providers who accept to be preceptors and the patients in the community are key to the success of this program,” said Sylvie Forgues-Martel, chief liaison officer for academic and medical affairs at WDMH. “The patients are very often the teachers,” said Devin. “It’s an important part of our learning,” said Brassard. “The patients are incredibly accepting, very trustful and very happy to participate in our learning, which is great. The more exposure we get makes our learning more complete, and we get a lot of exposure here.”

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