Medical students head north to gain insight into rural life
Monday, 5 September 2011
The biggest contingent of medical students in the University of Adelaide's history will head to the Spencer Gulf in late September for a week-long visit to explore the potential of a rural medical career.
About 160 third-year medical students will be based at a purpose-built camp site at Nuttbush Retreat on Pandurra Station, 40 kilometres west of Port Augusta, from September 19-23.
The Rural Week 2011 exercise will see students immersing themselves in rural life, conducting free community health checks in Port Pirie, Whyalla and Port Augusta as well as taking part in a range of cultural and practical workshops.
"By introducing medical students to rural life we are hoping they will see the opportunities and the lifestyle that is available to them on graduation," said Dr Gillian Laven from the University of Adelaide's School of Population Health and Clinical Practice.
"A rural medical career is an exciting, challenging and satisfying life. It can offer pathways not only in general practice, but also research and teaching.
"The rural communities in the Spencer Gulf will also have an opportunity to showcase their region to the medical students, promoting their lifestyle to potential future doctors who are critical to their communities.
"During the students' week-long stay, residents in Port Augusta, Port Pirie and Whyalla will also be able to receive some basic health services at no cost, which will include blood pressure, BMI and blood glucose checks. It's a win-win situation for all concerned," Dr Laven said.
The students will be housed in safari-style tents at Nuttbush Retreat, a working sheep station and tourist campsite, experiencing country life from both a medical and lifestyle perspective.
They will undertake workshops in the following: rural driving; de-mystifying bush communication; handling emergency medical and dental situations; livestock management; farm safety; and bush mechanics, among others.
Resident doctors in the Spencer Gulf region will also demonstrate the diversity of rural practice in short workshops.
"This practical placement forms an important part of the medical degree at the University of Adelaide, with all our students required to undertake at least four weeks of their medical education in a rural location," Dr Laven said.
Addressing the shortage of doctors and allied health personnel in rural and regional South Australia has been identified as a key priority for the State Government.
SA Health Minister John Hill said country South Australia offered a "wealth of opportunity" for young doctors.
"The Government really values the contribution of the resourceful and committed individuals who go into rural medicine. We are investing more services, at a higher level, in rural and remote areas, which means more diversity and development options for country doctors," Minister Hill said.
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