MedQUEST alumni pay it forward to help a new generation explore health careers

Shawn Segeren was just going into grade 11, when he went to a unique week-long camp in his hometown of Chatham called the MedQUEST Health Career Exploration Program. Now he’s a second year medical student at Western’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and he’s back in the program, this time as part of the school’s six-week clinical teaching elective.

The MedQUEST Health Career Exploration Program which runs from July 8-12, provides secondary school students in rural and regional Southwestern Ontario with realistic, hands-on experiences in health care. It’s hoped this early exposure will influence their career plans, and ultimately increase their chance of successfully entering medical school or other allied health professions. As well, MedQUEST is held in their home communities, and students from a rural/regional background are more likely to return to practice health care in their hometowns, many of which are underserviced. Medical students like Shawn teach and mentor students (act as counsellors) as part of their rural/regional community clinical training.

“One of the things I’m looking forward to the most is being able to show these high school students in my community that it’s possible to do this,” says Segeren, one of seven MedQUEST alumni in the Meds Class of 2016. “I think to see that somebody can -not only live in Chatham, graduate from one of the local high schools, go on to an undergraduate program and then do medicine, which is a very competitive field to get into – I think that’s going to be helpful and I’m really looking forward to serving my community in that way.”

The MedQUEST Health Career Exploration Program has 130 participants in six locations. The high school students get to read x-rays, splint and cast fractures, deliver a “baby” using a life-like simulator, and gain an understanding of the training requirements needed to work in the field of health care. The medical students showcase the very skills they have honed living, learning and working in partnering communities.

One of the high points every year is a community mock disaster. This year, the dean of Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, Dr. Michael Strong will attend the mock disaster in Walkerton, taking place on Wednesday, July 10.

The program is run by the Southwestern Ontario Medical Education Network (SWOMEN), in collaboration with community partners. 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 and Fannie Vavoulis (519)437-6143
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 / Tillsonburg) – Lisa Gardner (519) 485-1732 ext. 392 and Lynda Vandemaele (519) 842-3611 ext. 5278
Sarnia-Lambton (Sarnia) – Contact: Lisa Hendra-Pavey and Jodi McGregor (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,