Monash Rural Health celebrates student success at annual medicine award ceremony

Final year Monash medical students were recognised for their academic and leadership achievements at the annual Medicine Awards, held on Tuesday 14 December 2021. The four awards sponsored by Monash Rural Health were presented by Dr Margaret Simmons, who has been the Acting Director of Monash Rural Health Churchill this year.

Evonny Giang was awarded the Extended Rural Cohort Prize, which is awarded to the student from the Extended Rural Cohort (ERC) with the highest aggregate marks.

Miriam Storti holding two certificatesMiriam Storti received the School of Rural Health (Churchill) Graduation Prize, as the final year student from the graduate entry program who attained the highest aggregate mark. Miriam studied a Bachelor of Pharmacy (Honours) and started her career as a hospital pharmacist before deciding to return to Monash to pursue medicine. She named a six-week placement in an intensive care unit as a real highlight of her studies.

“The way the team worked tirelessly together to treat our sickest patients during the pandemic, with its associated challenges, was inspiring. Observing open heart surgery and witnessing the complexity of cardiac anaesthesia was also a surreal experience that I will never forget.”

Miriam also received the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health Senior Medical Staff Prize for Excellence in Student Internship. In 2022, she will begin her medical career as an intern at Alfred Health and is interested in cardiology, anaesthesia and intensive care.

Kaitlyn Hastings, like Miriam, came to graduate entry medicine with a background in pharmacy. She received the School of Rural Health Prize, which recognises a student who completed most of their placements in regional locations and achieved exceptional academic performance.

“As a rural student, I value the sense of community that exists in the rural setting. Completing Year A in Churchill and placement at a rural hospital made it clear that I would have excellent opportunities on rural placements that would equip me to be the best doctor I can be,” she explained.

Kaitlyn reflects that her rural placements with Monash Rural Health provided many highlights over the last four years.

“My first full clinical year in Mildura was an incredible opportunity to throw myself into new challenges and take on various opportunities. The clinicians were incredible to work with and the Mildura team were incredibly supportive of us and allowed us to explore many different areas of medicine.

In the midst of the pandemic last year, I was incredibly lucky to complete 18 weeks in Swan Hill for my general practice rotation. Through a challenging period for all students, I cannot fault the excellent program and support offered by the Swan Hill team. The group of students I was placed with made a challenging semester a very enjoyable one.”

Kaitlin also received the School of Clinical Sciences at Monash Health’s Student Intern Awards for Excellence. She will join The Royal Melbourne Hospital as an intern and have rotations at the Royal Women’s and Horsham Hospital. She plans to work at metropolitan and regional and rural hospitals.

Keisha Nash with Professor Michelle LeechKeisha Nash, the 2021 co-president of Wildfire - the University’s Indigenous and Rural Health Club received the Teresa Neale Prize. This acknowledges her significant contributions in the promotion of rural, remote and Indigenous health.

“Throughout my life, I have always endeavoured to teach others about my culture, as well as educate and spread awareness of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health issues. I am honoured to be receiving this award as it means that I am moving in the right direction to continue to spread awareness of rural, remote, and Indigenous health issues.”

Keisha will be serving the community she grew up in as an intern at Peninsula Health. She hopes to work towards admission into the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (RANZCOG), as well as find ways to work in the Torres Strait.

Head of School, Professor Shane Bullock, offered his commendations to the 2021 Monash Rural Health award recipients:

"I congratulate Evonny, Miriam, Kaitlyn and Keisha on being well-deserving recipients of our Monash Rural Health prizes this year. These prizes acknowledge their academic success, leadership, peer support provided and contributions to the community. We wish them every success as they move to the next stage of their careers and look forward to hearing of their future contributions to the health workforce."

Kaitlyn Hastings with Dr Marg Simmons Evonny Giang with Dr Marg Simmons

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Photography by Ger Hynes, Hynesite Photography