Flinders Rural and Remote Health SA: Rural Day 2021

Year 4 ambassadors: Michael Hood, Rebecca Davies, Tom Smith, Grace Berwald and Andy Ung

This week, first year MD students were exposed to the broad range of opportunities and diverse learnings possible if they choose to be part of the year 3 MD Rural Stream (MDRS) program. Positions not part of the MD Rural Sub-quota are available for current year ones to apply for across the Flinders footprint. Campus sites include Darwin, Renmark, Nuriootpa, Murray Bridge, Victor Harbor and Mt Gambier with students placed in regional clinics with GP supervisors and attending training and lecture sessions on campus.

Rural day was held at Woodhouse Activity Centre in Piccadilly, just 21 kilometres from Bedford Park but the setting was strikingly rural with a chill in the air and autumn leaves at their best.

With 100 students present and staff from all South Australian rural sites and Northern Territory representatives, Darryl Cameron gave the acknowledgement to country and Professor Rosalie Grivell welcomed everyone to Rural Day 2021. Vanessa Ryan, Flinders Rural and Remote Health SA Academic Lead introduced the mornings speakers and shared her rural highlights and love of being part of a regional community.

Dr Sam Ghamrawi spoke about his journey to becoming a Generalist Specialist GP at Mannum where he also supervises and teaches Flinders year 3 students. Over many years he studied various specialty areas of medicine, including surgery, orthopaedics and emergency but felt unfulfilled and wanted to follow his patients’ journeys and support them more. He felt the best way to do this was to become a GP. Now, a rural GP in his final year of training, Sam is also the SA registrar liaison officer for GPEX. His message to students about the reality of rural practice was:

  • It is challenging
  • It allows you to be a better doctor
  • There are variable circumstances and resources
  • It is rewarding and you are in high demand
  • Changes you are able to make are rewarding to not only you, but the community you work in
  • General practice gives you more room to be you with career stability and excellent earning prospects

Representatives of each Flinders Rural and Remote Health region including the Northern Territory presented the clinical, learning and lifestyle opportunities for students in their regions prior to students rotating through representative stations. Here, they heard from program administrators and current year four students who shared their rural experiences.

These rural student ambassadors spoke about the support received during their rural year (from not only Flinders staff but the GP clinics they were assigned to), exposure to broad patient demographics and need, diversity of clinical work, immersion into rural community and the activities and experiences available. Speaking about their ten-month placement, students shared their positive experiences in a broad variety of work including medical, surgical, emergency, obstetric and paediatric experiences, were well supported and treated as valued team members.

During the day, students took part in questionnaires via Slido, including their preference for MD3 with just 15% considering a rural year at the start of the day to 41% at days close.

Flinders Rural and Remote Health SA and NT staff and campuses look forward to welcoming them in 2023.

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