MedQUEST: a unique learning experience for both medical and high school students

MedQUEST is a six-week summer elective that allows medical students from Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry to both “catch babies” alongside physicians, and to share the experience with high school students using a life-like birthing simulator. Eighteen medical students, 17 going into Year 2 and one going into Year 3, have spent the last month working alongside doctors in community hospitals, gaining valuable hands-on experience. Starting Monday, they’ll become leaders for the award-winning MedQUEST Health Career Exploration Program which is designed to provide secondary school students, in rural and regional Southwestern Ontario, with realistic, hands-on experiences in various disciplines of health care, including medicine.

The program is run by the Southwestern Ontario Medical Education Network (SWOMEN), in collaboration with community partners. 150 students from grades 10 and 11 are registered for the MedQUEST Health Career Exploration Program which runs from July 9-13. Early exposure to the practice of medicine helps to influence students’ career plans, ultimately increasing their chance of successfully entering medical school or other allied health professions. As well, MedQUEST is held in their home communities. Studies have shown that students from a rural/regional background are more likely to return to practice health care in their hometowns. In fact, several of the medical students in MedQUEST are taking the elective in their hometown.

“MedQUEST as a summer elective gave me plenty of opportunity to try the skills I had learned in my first year at Schulich, and even try a few things I had only seen on TV. I found the physicians to be very eager to teach, and as the only student in most cases, more than willing to let me practice my clinical skills,” says Caitlin Van De Cappelle, Meds Class of 2014 who spent a MedQUEST elective in Ingersoll and Tillsonburg last year. “The connection and trust that the patients had in their physicians became apparent as they gave permission for me to carry out their procedures.”

Along with learning how babies are delivered, the high school students get to read x-rays, splint and cast fractures, participate in a community mock disaster, and gain an understanding of the training requirements needed to work in the field of health care.

For more information, please contact the community coordinator in your area:
Bruce-Grey (Walkerton) – Contact: Myrna Inglis (519) 881-0586
Chatham-Kent (Chatham) – Contact: Laura Johnson (519) 354-2172 ext. 230
Essex (Leamington) – Contact: Anne M. Miskovsky (519) 326-5761 ext. 1601
Huron-Perth (Seaforth) – Contact: Laura Overholt (519) 600-2273 ext. 261
Oxford-Elgin (Ingersoll / Mount Elgin / Tillsonburg) – Lisa Gardner (519) 485-1732 ext. 392
Sarnia-Lambton (Sarnia) – Contact: Lisa Hendra-Pavey (519) 464-4400 ext. 5406

Kathy Van Dinther, MedQUEST Coordinator, SWOMEN, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, (519)858-5152, Toll Free: 1-877-237-9676,

Kathy Wallis, Media Relations Officer, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, (519) 661-2111 ext. 81136, c: (519)777-1573,
Kathy Wallis