Trainee doctors create community connections in Victoria’s south-west

Deakin

Nearly 100 first year Deakin University medical students are heading out to rural and regional clinical training sites over the next few weeks to learn more about what life is like as a country doctor.

The Rural Immersion Program includes students from the first intake of Deakin’s Rural Training Stream. These are medical students who have been specially selected for medical training in Deakin’s Rural Clinical Schools with the hope that they will remain in the country to live and work as graduate doctors.

Associate Professor Lara Fuller, Director of Deakin’s Rural Community Clinical School, said the Rural Training Stream was designed to address the shortage of doctors living and working in rural and regional areas.

“The program we have running throughout July will give many of our first-year medical students, including the Rural Training Stream students, an opportunity to visit clinical training sites across south-west Victoria and the Grampians region,” Associate Professor Fuller said.

“These students will spend time in hospitals, general practices and health care clinics and see first-hand how medical care is delivered to Victorian rural communities.

“These visits will also help them build relationships within those communities by connecting them with country and significant sites, community groups and organisations.

“We’ve designed this as a completely immersive experience so that our students get to know these communities because we know that graduate doctors are more likely to work in country areas when they feel a sense of community and belonging to those areas.”

The Rural Immersion Program involves 90 students who will spend three days in Ballarat, Warrnambool or the Rural Community Clinical School’s locations in Ararat, Colac, Daylesford, Portland, Hamilton, Camperdown, Horsham and Stawell.

“Rural and regional areas continue to face a critical shortage of doctors and medical workforce generally,” Associate Professor Fuller said.

“The evidence tells us that students from a rural background who complete extended training in a rural clinical school are far more likely to work in rural areas after graduation.

“And there is emerging evidence that the best outcomes occur when students from rural communities are able to complete their training within their own geographic region.

“Deakin’s Rural Training Stream dedicates 30 places in the medical course to rural students and supports them on the pathway to becoming a rural doctor.

“The first-year rural immersion is the first step in that journey of developing a connection with one of our partner rural communities.”

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