Monash medical students experience rural healthcare and communities

One hundred and sixty Monash medical students completed a one-week rural placement this month - giving them a taste of what it's like to study, work and live rurally.

The Year 2 Rural Placement Program aims to increase students’ understanding and knowledge of rural and regional health systems, and the patients within these communities. This year, all second year medical students had the opportunity to take part in the program in either semester one or two - which plays an important role in giving students the chance to experience a rural setting before they submit placement preferences.

"We know that early exposure to rural placement does influence the likelihood of students choosing a rural placement during the clinical years of their course,” explained Professor Shane Bullock.

Participating students were based at Monash Rural Health sites in Bairnsdale, Bendigo, Mildura, Sale, Traralgon and Warragul, where they toured the local health services and spent time shadowing local general practitioners and other health profesionals. The experience also provided opportunities to practice clinical skills with senior Monash medical students on rural placement and connect with Traditional Owner groups, emergency services including Ambulance Victoria and the Country Fire Authority, local businesses and schools.

Monash medical students with an ambulance

For some students, this was their first exposure to life and health service delivery within a regional setting. Sabrina spent a week in Bendigo and found the experience eye-opening.

“The program went above and beyond my expectations. This week went by so fast, but I think my experiences and memories from this week will continue to stay with me for a long, long time. I was beginning to doubt if medicine was a profession that I was suited for, but the wonderful interactions with patients, senior medical students and medical professionals  confirmed why I want to be a doctor in the first place. I am more than grateful for having had the opportunity to take part in this program. Although working in regional or rural areas was something that I had never previously considered as an option, mainly due to the fact that metropolitan life is all I’ve ever known, I am definitely more than eager to return to regional areas as a licensed doctor.”

Hannah, who spent a week in Bairnsdale, named a visit to the Krowathunkooloong Keeping Place as a highlight.

“We were able to ask any questions in a safe space and my cultural understanding was furthered significantly from the tour and artefacts as well as the knowledge shared in a kind and generous way. It will impact the way that I deliver clinical and non-clinical care in the future to those of Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander background, as it provided me with greater knowledge about how to offer appropriate support in a culturally thoughtful way. I also will take my learnings into daily life.”

A second group of 160 students will participate in the Year 2 Rural Placement Program in September.

Monash medical students outside Echuca Regional Health

Photo courtesy of the Riverine Herald