Regional study leads to career flip

Danielle Taylor’s experience as a regional medical student and intern changed her career plans. “I was completely flipped around,” she says.

Danielle Taylor’s experience as a regional medical student and intern changed her career plans. “I was completely flipped around,” she says. “I came into medicine not really knowing what I wanted to do and I quite clearly remember myself saying – Oh I'd never want to do surgery; that just sounds horrible – to now wanting to be a regional general surgeon.”

Growing up in bayside Melbourne Danielle had no idea there was a difference between rural and metro medicine when she applied to study medicine. She chose the rural option thinking that if she had to move out of home, she may as well move out of home properly.

“I was lucky enough to get Ballarat and I spent two and a half years there and was able to think towards the end that I might as well try a different place as well. So I came across to Bendigo. It's been really, really good.”

Regional experience a plus for internship applications

Danielle highlighted her experience in regional areas when she was applying for internships because it had given her so much hands-on clinical training. “I got to actually see more patients compared to my friends in the city. I got to go to theatre more. When I was in the ED, I even got to do more suturing than a lot of my friends in the city.”

She said regional hospitals also know that students who train in regional areas understand patients’ communities and it is “definitely looked on highly”. But even city hospitals appreciate that you understand patients aren’t simply unwell individuals. “The patients that you see come from a community. You understand where they work and where they live. So if you're in a regional area, you understand how far away Swan Hill is from where you work and you take that into account when you treat the patients.”

Time for outside work pursuits

“Work’s been really, really good,” she says of her year as an intern with Bendigo Health. So has her life outside work. “That's one of the good things about being in a regional area: it takes us five minutes to get to work, so it is a bit easier to have some of that outside of work time.

“I really enjoy running so I've been able to do heaps of running this year. I really like not having to run through the city or the streets. There's great parks and lakes.” Some of her friends play in mixed netball competition, futsal or tennis and the interns get together frequently and go out for dinner. “There's heaps of good food and drink here,” she says. “And we also have our weekly trivia competition to get out some of our competitiveness.”

Ballarat and Bendigo both have everything she could possibly need she says. “Even some of our smaller sites have all of the shops and things like that that you need to enjoy your time there.”

Plans to return

Her short-term plan is to return to the city for a couple of years to gain experience on high specialty teams. “It's good to sort of trial those different things,” she says. “And then eventually I'd like to be able to come back and work and settle in a regional and rural area.”

To those wondering whether to try regional training, she says she’d recommend it to anyone. “Regardless of whether you want to end up working and living regionally, to have some experience in the rural and regional areas – either as a student or when you're working – is such an invaluable experience. And it might even change your mind.”