Get to know your College: Alen Pasalic, MD Rural Stream, on placement in Naracoorte

Alen Pasalic, MD Rural Stream student, reflects on his year-long placement in Naracoorte SA

Reflecting back on my year in Naracoorte, I’m really encouraged by the amount I have grown, both in a clinical setting but also in my awareness of rural practice. Prior to this year I knew very little about what it meant to work in a small town as a doctor; I thought that the GPs worked similarly to their metro-based counterparts and that more difficult presentations outside their scope required referrals to a larger town.

While in some aspects this was the case, the reality of what it means to be a rural generalist is far greater than what I anticipated – I grew to appreciate that even despite the existence of health discrepancies in rural settings, the efforts made by rural doctors is a growing and valuable resource that is continuously bridging this gap.

My future aspirations are to be a cardiologist and my exposure this year has encouraged me to pursue providing these services to rural communities. I see a tremendous need and growing burden that I would love to one day address.

Through the clinical exposure I have received in Naracoorte, I have been able to grow in my clinical reasoning and confidence when approaching procedures/patients. Admittedly, the complexities of presentations I’ve seen here have been less than what others have seen; however, the active involvement I’ve had with patients has allowed me to develop as well as make me feel as though I’m making a genuine difference.

Additionally, I have been absorbed by the Naracoorte community and welcomed wholeheartedly. This has made me feel as though I’m more than “just a medical student,” but rather a valuable member of the team and community.

Alongside the involvement I have had in Naracoorte, the support and services provided to me by the Mt Gambier Rural Clinical School (RCS) have far exceeded any expectations I had. The staff’s constant dedication towards teaching and providing us with the best clinical experience has heavily influenced my development into a future doctor. I can confidently say that without the support of the staff, my year wouldn’t have been the same – they’re all amazing.

Being in a rural setting was, globally, an emotional rollercoaster – there were times in the year that were amazing, and other points that were incredibly difficult; however, reflecting back on it all I believe that my time here has allowed to develop positively towards the future doctor that I want to be.

I would do it all again and would encourage others to do the same.

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