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North Bay Stream

North Bay Site Director: Dr. Renee Gauthier
Assistant Site Director: Dr. James Truong

The city of North Bay offers a delightful balance of work and learning opportunities and resources, coupled with the lifestyle factors that keep one sane during medical residency training. We’re a small city of under 60,000 which somehow still manages to host Nipissing University, Canadore College, a military base and an airport within the city limits, a kid-friendly waterfront and public marina and a diverse industry including mining engineering and high tech electric vehicle manufacturing. All this, while living near two in-city lakes (Nipissing and Trout), two in-city forests (Duschesnay Falls and Laurier Woods), two 30km+ trail systems (The Kate Paceway and the Education Trails which actually connect to the hospital grounds) and excellent mountain biking, nordic and alpine ski facilities. From the outside, residency can seem like an exercise in packing in too much learning into too short a time. When you’re actually living it, it’s often true that it’s the life outside the walls of the hospital that get you and your family through it. There aren’t a lot of places where you can exit your day at the hospital, get into a canoe within 10 minutes, paddle for 30 minutes, moor at a dockside ice cream store with fifteen flavours and then walk up the stairs to a gas station that sells authentic Indian Food and excellent poutine!

North Bay Regional Health Centre is a 400+ bed facility and is a direct referral centre for other outlying communities. We’ve had residency trainees in Family Medicine and also Anesthesia, Emergency, General Surgery, Internal Medicine, Paediatrics, Psychiatry and Public Health. The Northeast Mental Health Centre, our psychiatric hospital, is physically attached on the same campus, facilitating the care of medically complex psychiatric patients. There is a 16-bed closed CCU/ICU and a post-28weeks NICU. Obstetrics is shared by FRCP OBs and midwives and newborn care is often done by family doctors. In other words, we might not be the ideal training site if you aim to be a neurosurgeon or plastic surgeon. For almost anything else, we pride ourselves in being a great place to learn directly, often one-on-one, from active-practice MDs. 

Unusual for a community of its size, North Bay continues to have a core group of family physicians who also devote time to inpatient hospital medicine, both for their own rostered patients and for unattached patients who are admitted. For Family Medicine trainees, this means a more varied and challenging exposure to higher acuity medical care. For Specialists, both as residency trainees and staff, it can mean more sustainable on-call schedules, a closer working relationship with general medicine colleagues and more collaboration in care. Likewise, the emergency department is staffed mostly my FM-trained MDs and we strive for a friendly relationship between “the Door” and “the Floor”. If you’ve ever worked in a hospital where getting a patient admitted requires a fight or a “sales job”, North Bay Regional will be a welcome change!

There is a long tradition in our community of upholding a bedside teaching model by practicing clinicians. Unlike in the big city, there are no purely academic appointments and as a result, the day-to-day cases and study before and afterwards remain directly relevant to real world practice. Yet, we still balance it out with Resident-Led-Rounds and Workshops for the undergraduate medical students (we typically have about ten each year, some of whom are visiting from outside of NOSM University). Residents therefore can reinforce their own learning by being teachers themselves. We have access to a high-fidelity simulation lab at the Nipissing University which has also been used for workshops. Later on, learners are supported by several instalments of protected-time practice sessions and mentoring for the College exams and we hold Mock SOO (Simulated Office Orals) with experienced doctors serving as standardized patients.

We pride ourselves in the Lifelong Learning model and put our time and money where our mouth is. In addition to typical small group rounds and larger topics held within the hospital by the various departments, we are proud to have a very strong Local Education Group (LEG) and the majority of staff are members. The LEG holds several one-day symposia per year, accredited for CME and typically funded both for staff and learners to attend at no cost. Previous topics have included toxicology, sepsis, Derm, addiction and burns; basically, every once in a while, we take a day off, get together for free and, without having to travel anywhere, collect CME credits while eating.

It’s not all book learning, though. We have a stake in supporting your physical and mental health during residency while maintaining our own. The Learner’s Wellness Circle is protected time during which you are invited to kibitz with fellow students and go over trials and tribulations with your peers. We strive to find every resident and their family a primary care contact during their time in North Bay. Informal learning opportunities crop up all the time: there have been individual and group sessions presented at microbreweries, coffee roasters, trivia nights and, and maybe even one session might be held on a dock. A newsletter of factoids and info about the community is circulated monthly. And finally, we have a mentorship and competency coaching system that allows for periodic 1:1 review with an established MD tasked less with quizzing you on hyponatremia (…again…) and more with building out a sustainable, rewarding career after residency is done. We pride ourselves that even decades later, some of our senior staff still maintain in contact personally and professionally with students that they met on that first day of R1.