New MedLINCS pilot program brings medical education to Aboriginal youth

Now in its ninth year, Western University’s Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry is working in collaboration with community partners across seven southwestern Ontario locations to immerse Schulich Medicine students in rural health care settings through its MedLINCS program (formerly MedQuest). Over six weeks first- and second-year medical students take part in clinical-teaching electives and then plan and deliver a Health Careers Exploration Program for local high school students.

The week-long exploration programs, which run from July 7-11, provide high school students with realistic, hands-on experiences in health care, including reading x-rays, practising sutures and splinting and casting. In some communities, the week ends with a mock-disaster which involves the participation of local emergency response personnel.

This year, through a new pilot project, MedLINCS is bringing the exploration program to Aboriginal communities in the Owen Sound area with the aim of encouraging more young people to pursue post-secondary education in a health care field. Although the number is slowly rising, less than ten per cent of Aboriginal youth today earn university degrees, and of those, only a fraction are in medicine or health care (Statistics Canada, 2011).

In partnership with the Huronia Aboriginal Management Board and the Four County Labour Market Board, the MedLINCS Aboriginal Pilot Project involves youth from Aboriginal communities in the Owen Sound area, who will participate in clinically-relevant experiences led by Schulich Medicine students and other allied health professionals.

“This pilot project is an opportunity to get Aboriginal youth, who are often in underserviced communities, excited about healthcare careers,” said Dr. George Kim, Assistant Dean of Rural & Regional Community Engagement at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry at Western University. “It also gives our medical students exposure to the unique health care needs in Aboriginal communities.”

Schulich Medicine student Helene Baldwin is involved in the pilot project and is taking part in a clinical placement in the community as part of the MedLINCS program. “By shadowing health care professionals who work in Aboriginal communities, we have gained insight into practising culturally sensitive medicine,” she said. “And we’ve learned the importance of the supports that are needed to ensure a positive health care experience for our future patients.”

The MedLINCS program is run by the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry in collaboration with many community partners. For more information please contact the community coordinator in your area:

Bruce-Grey Aboriginal Pilot Project (Owen Sound) – Contact: Kay Uitvlugt 519.881.2725
Bruce-Grey (Walkerton) – Contact: Myrna Inglis  519.881.0586
Chatham-Kent (Chatham) – Contact: Laura Johnson 519.354-2172 ext. 1230 and Fannie Vavoulis 519.437.6143
Essex (Leamington) – Contact: Yvonne Bauer 519.322.2500
Huron-Perth (Seaforth) – Contact: Laura Overholt (519) 600-2273 ext. 261
(Ingersoll) Karen Quaegebeur 519.485.1732 ext.8208
(Tillsonburg) Lynda Vandemaele (519) 842-3611 ext. 5278
(St.Thomas) – Cheryl Fish 519.631.7365
Sarnia-Lambton (Sarnia) – Contact: Jodi McGregor 519.464.4400 ext. 5406

Media Contact: Crystal Mackay, Media Relations Officer, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, t. 519.661.2111 ext. 80387, c. 519.777.1573,