Dear Colleagues and Friends,
The Rural Clinical School is looking forward to the year ahead having recently welcomed 53 new and returning students, with places oversubscribed for our 2017 MBBS program. It is exciting to see that increasing numbers of medical students are choosing to study in this region, with each valuing the many professional and personal opportunities that rural health services and local communities here continue to provide.
Many of our 2016 graduates have remained in this region taking up 12 out of 15 internships offered at the North-West Regional Hospital during January, and this year we are pleased to also welcome back some of our graduates for teaching roles in the faculty and to practices in the area.
Rural Clinical Schools were established by the Federal Government to address medical workforce shortages in rural and remote areas, so it is pleasing to see many of our graduates remaining or returning to Burnie to further their careers.
Early in January, we welcomed the new and prospective year one students who were leaving the coast for Hobart to commence the course. The students met other medical students from this region, and learned more about the Bachelor of Medicine Bachelor of Surgery program. We also ran a pre-Orientation Week course in Hobart for all of the rural Tasmanian students.
We officially welcomed our fourth and fifth year students to the North-West with a Community BBQ in February. The students met local leaders and community and health representatives during this event, and we are always grateful for the support which our local Mayors, Councillors, Members of Parliament and Clinical Colleagues and executives provide. This community support enables our students to have a very rich experience living and working in a rural area.
Rural Clinical School students coordinate hands-on health programs throughout the year to encourage local students to consider higher education. In January, we participated in holiday initiatives for younger people in the region, notably the Science Experience and Children’s University program, both of which aim to inspire our next generations to pursue their passions through further education. This week we hosted two health career information evenings for year 11 and 12 students, providing advice to students and their parents about our courses.
Later this month, our Emergency Skills Program will take place on Tasmania’s West Coast, challenging 29 fifth year medical students to “respond” to a number of simulated emergency events.
These are training sessions designed to provide a realistic environment for the students as they learn about disaster management in a rural or remote area, managing patient trauma in a critical response situation, and working effectively with emergency services and health professionals.
Second year medical students will be hosted by rural communities across the state during April, as they spend a week living and working in these places to see how community services operate. The North-West will host 60 students across nine communities as part of the Rural Pathway program.
In the research space, we recently published the results of a study led by Rural Clinical School students who have since graduated. Young people have their say: What makes a youth-friendly general practice uncovered the perceptions Tasmanian teenagers have about general practice.
The study found young people valued non-judgemental GPs who listened, avoided medical jargon, made assurances about confidentiality and treated them like adults. Ninety-five per cent considered a GP to be their primary healthcare provider, and they wanted to be asked questions about mental wellbeing, sexual health and substance use, as they felt uncomfortable broaching sensitive topics themselves.
Our staff members Dr Jane Cooper, Colleen Cheek and Penny Allen mentored students Laura Turner, Leah Spencer, Jack Strugnell, Julian Chang and Isabel Di Tommaso for this project, and we acknowledge the important contribution of Magella Tate who passed away during 2015 and who was a student co-author of this project. These findings will no doubt prove insightful for many GPs across Australia, to better engage in youth-friendly practice. Click here to read the paper.
We have also welcomed new staff members to the Rural Clinical School team to share our 2017 journey. Sarvin Randhawa has joined us as our first Academic Registrar, Karen Lowe has commenced as Administrative Officer – Mersey and Primary, Zoe Page is assisting with Community Engagement based at the Launceston Clinical School, and Shantelle Rodman now handles all Rural Clinical School Media and Communications.
We wish you all a successful 2017 and look forward to seeing many of you throughout the academic year.
Lizzi Shires and Deb Wilson, Rural Clinical School Co-Directors.