Gippsland welcomes back Monash medical students

After a year most would rather forget – medical students have been returning to Monash Rural Health sites in Gippsland since the 25thof January. The last group of medical students, the first-year graduate entry cohort, commence their semester 1 studies on Monday 8 February. By this time there will be around 200 medical students embedded in the region across all year levels.

After a virtual orientation on Monday and Tuesday the first year students will be welcomed  for an introduction to clinical skills on Thursday 11 February.

According to Dr Marg Simmons, Acting Director at Monash Rural Health Churchill, Anatomy and Clinical Skills teaching will be run face-to-face on site in semester 1 and the balance of the program delivered via a combination of synchronous and asynchronous online teaching.

“The delivery of the core knowledge needed in medicine has always occurred through direct teaching, so face to face clinical teaching is hugely important for all years,” she said.

“In addition, it’s a way for the students to meet each other rather than across a screen which occurred last year.”

Sixteen of 27 of Monash University’s rural health first year international students remain located offshore and will commence the program online and they will be welcomed via zoom during the International Engagement Session on 5 February.  According to Dr Simmons, plans are in place to deliver a supportive and inclusive program for all students with tailored arrangements in place for Anatomy and Clinical Skills teaching to those offshore students.

Take a tour of the Monash Rural Health Churchill campus

Meet our students

Kayla Gallert, is a graduate entry student in first year Monash Rural Health in Gippsland. She attended Gippsland Grammar before completing an undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences and pharmacy.


Kayla relishes the challenges of studying medicine which she sees as “a vast discipline, encapsulating many different interests, specialty and subject areas; medicine also encourages continuity of learning and research, with many opportunities for future career development.”

Having lived in a rural/regional area all her life, Kayla is aware that many individuals living in regional areas “may not have access to adequate healthcare services, and may require further treatment at metropolitan healthcare facilities. Also, patients within the rural/regional health care system are sometimes lost to follow up, and therefore may not receive complete treatment for their medical conditions. I would see it to be a privilege to be a participant in bridging the gap between poor health literacy and low socioeconomic status, with a state of complete physical, mental and social wellbeing; essentially to assist in boosting productivity and reducing burden of disease within society.”

Sophie Fontaine grew up in Warragul and is a graduate entry student, having completed her Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences at Monash. Fascinated with the human body and enjoying communicating with people, medicine is a good fit for her. Sophie chose Monash University School of Rural Health, “largely because of the smaller cohort size and the fact that I could stay connected with Gippsland while still having opportunities to experience metro hospitals,” she said.

Sophie is adamant that she will remain in rural health once she has graduated and trained.

“I am extremely passionate about improving the health outcomes of rural people as I can directly relate to their experiences. Upon graduation, I wish to serve these under-represented populations to empower them to maintain their lifestyle without compromising their health. I would also love to combine my passion for medicine and languages/cultures by working in the field of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health.”

Aaron Gauntlett is from Traralgon and, like Sophie, is fascinated  by the human body.

“One of the main reasons I want to study medicine is that I've always enjoyed learning about the human body and how different diseases occur and their symptoms manifest. Medicine will provide me with an opportunity to interact with real patients, understand their conditions and symptoms, and apply my knowledge to provide them with appropriate treatments that respect their needs and wishes,” he said.

He is also acutely aware of the health needs in rural Australia.

“I've frequently heard of the shortage of doctors experienced by rural areas. Having lived in Gippsland for most of my life, pursuing medicine seemed like a great way for me to build my knowledge and skills to contribute to my local community. Thus, medicine at the Monash School of Rural Health is a great opportunity to study in a location I know and love (particularly having visited Churchill many times beforehand), whilst gaining experience working in local hospitals through placements,” he said.

“I really enjoy being in Gippsland and I think it's a place I'd love to work in in the future. The community and location are both great, and I'm happy to do my part in addressing the rural doctor shortage.”

Learn more about the Monash Rural End-to-End Program, which gives our graduate entry medical students  the opportunity to undertake their degree in rural and regional Victoria.