A local medical student has received the British Columbia Rural Interest Award, which is given to a UBC medical student who has an interest in entering rural medicine once their training is finished.
Selena Demenoff of Grand Forks is currently in her second year at the University of Northern British Columbia (UNBC)’s Northern Medical program in Prince George. Demenoff was thrilled to receive the award, and hopes to set up a clinical family practice in or near Grand Forks.
“I was delighted to win the award,” she said. “I want to thank everyone who has supported me through my continued educational journey.”
Demenoff was born and raised in Grand Forks and graduated from GFSS in 2009. She had an early passion for medicine and has cultivated that ever since graduating from high school. “Growing up in a rural community, I was close to family, extended family, friends, community and culture,” she said. “It gave me a strong sense of belonging. It also taught me that it’s not what you do in life but why you do it that counts.”
Upon graduating from high school, Demenoff went to UNBC where she completed her Bachelor of Health Sciences with a major in Biomedical Studies with honours in 2013. She then began medical school in the fall of 2014 and is currently in her second year. “I have thoroughly enjoyed both academic programs,” she said. “I have been interested in effective rural healthcare since a very young age,” she recalled. “I developed a growing passion for medicine as I learned how our physicians can make a difference in the community.”
Demenoff has a strong desire to see improvement in the lives of people living in rural communities. “Promoting health is not always sufficient to support a community, but empowering individuals to make changes in their own lives can be,” she said. “It takes more than just treating a health issue to achieve healthy communities, which is why research is so important to me.”
Demenoff spent last summer working on several research projects that focused on the delivery of rural health care in the Kootenay Boundary district. One project was to determine strategies that will help physicians and allied health care workers streamline the delivery of health services, and the other was looking at quality improvement around the surgical services within Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital.
Through her research, Demenoff has reinforced to herself how important social determinants such as employment, housing, social safety network and health services are when it comes to community health, particularly in rural communities.
“Rural physicians are a part of the community they serve,” she said. “They can be advocates for unmet needs in their area.”
Upon graduation from medical school, Demenoff is hoping to open a family practice in Grand Forks or the Boundary. “Many areas and specialties interest me and I look forward to a future practice such as family medicine that can combine these interests,” she said. “I hope to help marginalized populations, rural families, and unmet needs in our Kootenay and Boundary regions.”
The British Columbia Rural Interest Awards are funded from a collaborative committee of the Ministry of Health and the Doctors of BC. Individual awards of $5,000 are made available to 30 medical students each year to support their pursuit of practicing medicine in rural communities.
UNBC is one of three distributed medical education sites of UBC’s Faculty of Medicine.