City medical students see a country practice

December 15, 2010

The Bingara Medical Centre has been fortunate to have two medical students, James Connell and Rachel Norton, visit for two weeks to experience a country practice. Both students visited Bingara through the John Flynn Placement Program, which is administered by the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine in Brisbane and funded by the Federal Government.

Practice Manager, Anne-Marie Anderson told the Advocate that it is great experience for the students. “They sit in on consultations, assist with procedures, accompany the doctor on hospital rounds and triage patients before the doctor sees them.” According to Mrs Anderson, the students are a great benefit to the throughput of the centre.

The practice would take more students if there was room to accommodate them. “We have actually applied for a grant to extend the medical centre to include another consultation room, a treatment and triage suite and a medical students triage room, where there would be teleconferencing and video conferencing facilities,” Mrs Anderson said.

Rachel was very enthusiastic about her visit, saying that it was “brilliant” and that she was having a really good time. She enjoyed the country town experience of the Christmas Carnival, had spent time at Wade’s Jackaroo and Jillaroo School and was very impressed with the Roxy Café. With regard to the medical exposure, Rachel said that the visit was “of huge benefit” to her studies.

“In Brisbane, there are 10 students to one doctor, whereas in Bingara the experience is completely first hand, with the opportunity to assist. Everyone is so helpful, I was even shown how to take an x-ray. You’d never see that in the city,” Rachel said.

James, who was at the centre for the last two weeks in November, is a third year  undergraduate in South Australia. Rachel, who is a Bachelor of Science, is in her second year of her four year post graduate medical degree in Queensland. She will be in Bingara until December 19.

The John Flynn Placement Program, which is funded by the Department of Health and Ageing, has been operating for 13 years. It is part of the Australian Government’s strategy to attract more doctors to rural and remote areas to improve the quality of healthcare for local communities.

Each year medical students enrolled in accredited medical courses at one of 20 participating universities can apply for a place in the program. From 2009, 300 new placements have been made available each year.

Once accepted into the program, students are placed with a rural doctor and a local contact person for a minimum of two full weeks per year, normally over a four year period. Students are placed in the same community each year and are expected to complete the entire eight weeks of placements by the last holiday period following completion of their medical course.

Students work closely with a rural doctor in a wide variety of health settings and experience one on one mentoring. This type and level of mentoring for students is unique and supplements the experience of a University clinical rotation in a hospital or general practice.

Students are encouraged to get involved with the local community, which is a vital part of this program. Interacting socially with local people will help students develop friendships and a strong bond with their placement community.

The combination of a clinical and social experience that students, mentors and communities encounter on the program make it a success, and results in some students returning to the community post-program to work in the region.