Monash medicine students return to in-person Year 2 Rural Placement Program

This month, 120 Year 2 Monash medical students had the opportunity to experience life in regional Victoria for a week ahead of their clinical placement years. The Year 2 Rural Placement Program aims to increase students’ understanding and knowledge of rural and regional health systems, and the patients embedded within these systems and communities. This is the first time the popular program has been able to go ahead in person since 2019.

Using a hybrid approach, students first completed a series of online modules before putting their learning into practice with a week of rural placement hosted by Monash Rural Health  in Bairnsdale, Bendigo, Mildura, Sale, Traralgon and Warragul. Students spent time in local GP clinics shadowing general practitioners, attended ward rounds at regional hospitals, practised suturing skills in the Monash Rural Health clinical skills labs and visited Aboriginal health services.

Monash Rural Health offered the Monash pre-clinical students their first clinical experience in the Monash MD course. All students who participated in the Year 2 Rural Placement Program had the opportunity to take a history from and examine at least one patient. This was during a GP practice visit, a hospital ward placement, community based placement, or other consultation they had with a patient.

During the Semester 1 Year 2 Rural Placement Program, students had the opportunity to engage with local community hubs and businesses. This included workshops with the State Emergency Services in East Gippsland, dairy farm visits in Bendigo and Gippsland, and teddy bear hospital incursions and a trip to Orange World in Mildura. These activities gave students a sense of the rural lifestyle, and exposed them to some of the unique health challenges rural Victorians face.

Monash Rural Health Education Manager Laura Major says, “students tell us they find their rural experience to be fun, welcoming and challenging (in a positive way). They’re surprised at how welcoming rural patients are at wanting to engage with Monash medical students in rural areas, and this certainly continues throughout the clinical years during rural placements. They’re also appreciative of the support offered by all of our Monash Rural Health rural sites that deliver the program and the way in which the program is organised and structured.”

For student Melody Goh, a highlight was spending time with the paediatric team in Sale and the experience taught her to immerse herself in the moment and take every opportunity that arises.

“My week at Sale was an experience that I will genuinely treasure in my medical journey. What I loved about the program was the all-inclusiveness of rural life; I enjoyed both the clinical and non-clinical activities as well as being able to get to know my peers and talk with the clinical students in Sale.

Another part of Sale I enjoyed was simply chatting with the senior clinical students over dinner in the Monash Student Lounge and at the classic Thursday night trivia at the pub in Sale; it felt reassuring listening to their advice, stories and overall experience in medicine.” 

Laura Major has seen the positive impact that the Year 2 Rural Placement Program has both on participating students and rural communities.

“Long term, we’ve seen that the Year 2 program influences where our students undertake both long term rural placements and possibly does influence their career choices. Some Year 2 students have never stepped foot outside urban cities until they undertake the Monash Year 2 Rural Program, so when it influences their choices of further rural placements and professional career choices, then the benefits to our local rural communities will be seen in years to come.”

Many medical students who participate in the Year 2 Rural Placement Program go on to complete their clinical training years in rural Victoria and even continue their careers in rural areas. This year, Monash medical graduates took up 70% of regional  internship places in Gippsland and 54% of those were offered in north-west Victoria.

In Semester 2, Monash Rural Health will offer another 120 students the opportunity to participate in the Year 2 Rural Placement Program in September to gain valuable experience across our rural and regional footprint.