Medical students go west to help rural and remote communities

Medical students go west to help rural and remote communities

UOW medical students will on Monday (2 June) embark on a week-long road trip through western New South Wales to experience first hand the challenges of health care in rural and remote communities.

During the road trip the 32 students from UOW’s Graduate School of Medicine (GSM) will work alongside health professionals at the grassroots of rural community care, including Indigenous health staff.

The trip departs Wollongong on Monday 2 June and will cover more than 1700 kilometres in five days, taking in Mudgee, Walgett, Brewarrina, Bourke, Dubbo, Orange and then back to Wollongong.

While the students will get a taste of the tyranny of distance and challenges of being a rural doctor, the trip will also serve as inspiration for them to return to regional areas when they complete their studies, particularly in Indigenous healthcare settings.

This year UOW has a record number of Indigenous medical students enrolled in the graduate medicine program and the road trip will put students in contact with Indigenous health staff, including the community-run Aboriginal Medical Services, as well as other community health centres, GP clinics and local hospitals.

Timothy Haynes, a first year Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery student and a Gamilaroi man, said it was important for him to give back to his community.

“For me it’s a real drive to go and work for my community and change what’s been happening there. I think it’s also a responsibility for me to give back to the people who have been role models for me and pushed me along the way.”

GSM Academic Leader of Indigenous Health Scott Winch said the trip was part of a set of initiatives aimed at increasing the number of Indigenous doctors as well as better preparing all medical graduates for work in Indigenous healthcare.

“What we’re doing is getting students more immersed in Aboriginal culture and society. Rather than being in a lecture theatre and being told about Aboriginal health, they’ll be out there engaging in Aboriginal health and community development programs.

“We’ve also got partnerships with Aboriginal medical services and some of the students have longitudinal placements for 12 months to build up their clinical capabilities in working with Aboriginal people. It’s not just the clinical skills that are important, it’s also critical having community skills and knowledge that will make them appropriate practitioners.”

Accompanying the students on this journey will be Academic Leader of Indigenous Health Scott Winch, Regional Academic leader Dr Carl Mahfouz and Indigenous Project Officer Sharon Gray.

Note to media: The bus will depart UOW’s main campus at 9am on Monday 2 June. Photo and interview opportunities will be available throughout the trip. See the schedule below for dates and locations.

Media contact: On-location contact is Scott Winch, Academic Leader of Indigenous Health, on +61 437 203 221.

Road trip schedule 

Date Location Activity
Monday 2 JuneMudgeeMudgee Medical Centre and Mudgee District Hospital
Tuesday 3 JuneWalgettWalgett Aboriginal Medical Service and Walgett District Hospital
Wednesday 4 JuneBrewarrinaBrewarrina Hospital, Brewarrina Central School (students will cook a BBQ lunch for school students at their athletics carnival) and Brewarrina Aboriginal Medical Service
Thursday 5 JuneBourkeBourke Aboriginal Medical Service and Far West Medicare Local
Friday 6 JuneDubboWestern Plains Zoo, Royal Flying Doctors Service
Friday 6 June OrangeOrange Aboriginal Medical Service