Monash medical students welcomed to Swan Hill

Eight Monash medical students are currently completing general practice placements in Swan Hill. The fourth-year students are based with Swan Hill Primary Health Medical Centre for 18 weeks, under the supervision of enthusiastic local GPs.

Among them is graduate entry medical student, Ollie Little, who grew up in central Victoria, making him well versed with the challenges regional communities currently face accessing healthcare. He is passionate about living and working rurally and helping to address these challenges. Ollie previously completed clinical placements in Bendigo and Mildura and is excited to see his own patients during his time in Swan Hill.

Monash medical student, Oliver (Ollie) Little“I personally requested Swan Hill for my community practice rotation. Being 4 hours away from Melbourne and 2 hours from any other hospital it is about as rural as you can get in Victoria in terms of healthcare accessibility.”

Swan Hill has been home to over 200 Monash medical over the last decade. With the medical centre attached to Swan Hill District Health, this placement provides Monash students with a comprehensive rural generalist experience.

“The opportunity to undertake this experience allows the medical students to broaden their skillset and thoroughly experience life as a country doctor. It is different from traditional training, where specialists are usually around. In the country, The GP is the specialist in most fields including life-threatening emergencies, many GP’s have subspecialised in various procedural areas in order to provide vital services to their communities,” explains Dr Rex Prabhu, Executive Director of Medical Services at Swan Hill District Health.

“I have spent time in the community doing home visits to maternal and child health, worked with a physiotherapist seeing outpatients, seen patients with the consultant in the GP clinic, spent time in theatre with a general surgical and dental team, assisted procedures in the emergency department and assisted in the excision clinic helping to remove skin cancers”, said Ollie.

“No two patients are the same and if people get really sick, you’re the first port of call as a country doctor.  I find that exciting and strongly believe it is valuable work that makes a huge difference to people’s lives and our communities.”

Monash medical students have the opportunity to complete the majority of their clinical placements in the north-west of Victoria, through the End-to-End Rural Cohort, funded under the Murray-Darling Medical Schools Network. High school students from regional backgrounds, like Ollie, can also increase their chances of getting into medicine at Monash through the Dean’s Rural List.

Ollie is currently a student ambassador with the Rural Workforce Agency Victoria (RWAV) and plans to pursue a career as a country doctor and is particularly interested in general practice and critical care medicine.

“There is so much to choose from and the beauty of being a rural generalist is that you can see it all.”

Read more about Ollie's journey into medicine at Monash in The Guardian: Trainee GP's pathway to a coveted uni place.