Rural Week: immersing med students in rural practice
In the first two years of the Bachelor of Medical Science students experience what it is like to work in regional communities through Rural Week.
Krishant Nand is in his second year and has had some amazing learning experiences in rural Tasmania that has increased his interest in rural practice.
“It's a great way to start your medical career. It did put rural practice on my radar. There were so many cool things that you wouldn’t get to do in the city,” said Kris.
“We went to a Health Centre that is a residential aged care facility that is in the same building as a general practice and an emergency department. Doctors were running the entire facility and going where they were needed.
“They would go from being a GP to an emergency physician in one day. That is exciting!”
The highlight of second year Rural Week for Kris was getting involved with the Spanner in the Works Program.
Community members volunteered to attend sessions where students provided health checks. The health checks including things like weight and waist measurement, blood pressure, skin cancer screening, blood cholesterol and glucose, and mental health checks, where they talked about emotional concerns, anxiety, stress, and depression. A GP was present the whole time to consult with as needed.
“The mental health checkup was one of the biggest parts of the health check. Mental health is a big problem in rural areas. People just don’t seek help.
“We found that many people had big issues that they weren’t going to their GP’s to discuss. There was one man that couldn’t sleep at night who hadn’t talked to anyone. We were able to refer him to his GP.
“It felt really nice to have done something that might have changed or potentially even saved a life.”
Rural Week in 2nd year Medicine had a packed itinerary. It was over five days, with students split into groups of around 16 students. Students visited a variety of health care facilities including pharmacies, General Practices, Emergency Services and Child Care Centres. They also met with the council, the RSL and enjoyed some leisure activities to experience rural life.
“The emergency services were amazing! We met with the ambulance, fire and police departments. Because they don’t have a lot of people in these fields in regional areas, they all help each other out. They referred so well between each other. The collaboration was incredible and really well handled.”
Rural Week in Kris’s first year of medicine was held on the North West Coast with all medicine students (around 120) going together. Rural Week in second year saw students split up into different communities in smaller groups of 6-17 students.
“It was great to all go together in first year because we got to know everyone. Then in second year the smaller groups were great because we got to do a lot more hands on. Then because we all knew each other from first year, we shared our stories with each other when we got back.”