Medical students go bush

Griffith rural medical students on the job
Griffith medical students get some practice in before heading out to rural placements

The year for rural medical students has begun early.

While other student are just beginning to turn their minds to this year’s courses, medical students from Griffith University are about to begin crucial placements in rural hospitals across the Darlings Downs and Kingaroy.

Griffith has recently opened a number of training and accommodation facilities in Warwick, Stanthorpe, Toowoomba and Kingaroy to support and grow their rural health programs.

A better medical education experience

Rural placements are becoming increasingly popular with students who are coming to recognise the benefits smaller hospitals offer for their professional development. Research has also found rural health professional are more likely to take up a job in the country if they have a positive placement.

Matt Ruhl is a fourth year medical student who spent his 2012 placement in Warwick and is about to complete his final placement in Chinchilla before his exams. H is hoping to head straight back out bush once his education is complete.

“Every day I spent in Warwick last year was great, and I’d say it’s a better practical experience than metropolitan hospitals. In rural hospitals you have to get in and help, there’s a sense that you’re doing something useful,” he said.

A great choice to make

Mr Ruhl was among over a dozen students from Griffith and the University of Queensland presenting the findings of summer research programs with Queensland Rural Medical Education at Griffith’s new centre in Toowoomba.

They are all expecting to complete “Long Look” placements which encourage students to complete longer placements in a single rural hospital rather than moving regularly, as is the norm in the city.

“For some people the idea of moving to a rural area is really hard, but I’m a country person from Prenzlau (Lockyer Valley), so it’s a great choice to make.”

Less competition for learning experiences

David Molhoek a 3rd year Griffith medical student is more the city type but found his rural placements a revelation.

“Medicine is becoming more specialised, people are coming in sicker and staying shorter amounts of time. As an intern you’re competing for learning opportunitieswith nurses, physios and other health students, but in rural areas you’re straight in and learning,” he said.

“When I came back to Uni after being on rural experience week and said I did eight cannulations (inserting an IV drip) a day and assisted in emergency caesers, other students were amazed. They usually do eight cannulations a year.

“It puts the pressure on early, but it really builds your confidence and gives you a great education.

“…And the coffee’s great out here, I don’t know why people complain they won’t get a decent coffee, but it’s not true.”