Get to know your College: Dr Lauren Kennedy, Clinical Educator, Rural Training Pathway, Flinders University Rural Health South Australia

Dr Lauren Kennedy provides support to the MD4 students while on rural rotations and clinical oversight for the Flinders University Rural Health Society (FURHS), part of the multi-disciplinary student health network. She also supports the placement supervisors and provides a link back to the University.

How does rural training fit in with your other professional duties? I was a Parallel Rural Community Curriculum (PRCC) student myself and completed multiple rural rotations in fourth year after recognising the superior experience they provided. Unfortunately in SA there are no rural training positions in my specialty (emergency medicine) so I had to travel to Victoria to work rurally, which I did in 2017 (not the best place to be a Crows supporter that year). I was also able to support rural families through work with Medstar Kids in 2018, retrieving sick children and newborn babies from Alice Springs, Mount Gambier, Port Pirie, Clare and many other rural locations. At the end of my emergency medicine training I plan to work rurally and develop rural training options for future emergency medicine trainees.

What do you value most about working at Flinders? I started working in medicine to help patients – by teaching medical students to be safe and capable doctors I get to have a hand in helping many more patients than I could ever hope to care for on my own!

What do you see as the importance of Flinders in rural and remote communities? There is a huge role for Flinders in rural and remote communities – ideally we are producing graduates who work in rural areas and become a part of the rural community that they work in. For me, this has most frequently been on the netball court, where I have been involved in playing and umpiring in multiple competitions.

What were your biggest professional challenges during the pandemic? I have been in a unique position during the pandemic – with my simulation education job at FMC ED this year I have been heavily involved with PPE and safe airway management training as a direct result of the pandemic. Adjusting the delivery of the MD4 acute care workshop and FURHS activities including rural high school visits to remain COVID safe has also been a logistical challenge that has also given me a very different perspective.

The use of video conferencing as the norm instead of a solution to a problem has been a welcome change and one I really hope we can take forward with us through the pandemic to improve access to education and other initiatives for all our students.

What have been some of your proudest moments at Flinders? I have recently worked with a student to improve in a particular assessment area. We identified the issues together and came up with a plan to work on them. This included a particular program of activities that I designed to address the skills that needed to be expanded. The improvement in the performance of the student at their next assessment was out of sight and it was really rewarding to see the work we had put in pay off.

In your role, is there such a thing as a typical student? There definitely is not a typical student (and I don’t think it’s a loaded question, either!). Everyone has their own unique experiences that they bring to their studies in medicine at Flinders – it’s a benefit of a largely postgraduate course that has always appealed to me – and trying to “diagnose” the student to work out how I can help them achieve their goals is what I enjoy doing.

Tell us something about yourself others may not know. I talk too much. That’s definitely not unknown, but it’s why there probably isn’t much about me that people don’t know!

What’s one thing you couldn’t live without? I couldn’t live without my family, especially my daughter Millicent and my husband Matty who has to pick up the slack at home while I’m at work all the time!

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