Latest UQ cohort brings hope for rural medical centres
THIS week, 40 third and fourth year medical students converged on UQ Rural Clinical School in Rockhampton to begin their first week of rural study - something that may help with the staggering dip in rural and remote medical staff.
With hopes of retaining trained doctors, director of UQ Rural Clinic and department supervisor, Doctor Jenny Barry, welcomed the latest cohort for their rural placements. Some students will be heading off to rural areas like Theodore and Beaudesert, while others will remain in Rockhampton.
"We're in the middle of the introductory week where we start to introduce them to the kinds of things they are going to be doing here and we also want them to become actively engaged in the community," Dr Barry said.
"We're introducing them to things that they can do, finding out their interests and looking after them both academically and also from a psychosocial point of view.
"Over the 20 years that these clinical skills have been going, we have and we do have some students who stay on.
"Some students come in year three and then have such a great experience that they decide to apply to stay for year four."
Dr Barry said training students here also encouraged them to return as interns at CQ hospitals. This is where the school mascot, Wally the Northern Hairy Nose Wombat comes in.
"Wally is critically endangered and so is the health workforce who are choosing to work in the rural and regional areas," Dr Barry said.
"Our statistics show that of the UQ graduates who spend two years studying with UQ Rural Clinical School, 53% choose to work rurally in their first two years. Whereas, of those who do not study with us, only 11% choose to work rurally in their first two years.
"It's a worldwide phenomenon and we're encouraging (medical workers to come to CQ)."
Dr Barry said the school was also focusing on teaching skills lost in the "urbanisation" of medical training such as anaesthetics, obstetrics, gynaecology and surgery, to provide students with a wider range of skills.
Dr Barry commended Rockhampton's University of Queensland staff for their support of the students and said the feedback had so far been very positive.