Council sponsors student to experience rural life

Article image - Council sponsors student to experience rural life Dr John Marley and Amelia put a plaster cast on a patient

In February 2014, Tenterfield Shire Council resolved to participate in the Bush Bursary/Country Women’s Association Scholarship Scheme, which allows a medical student to spend two weeks of rural placement in a Council area.

Tenterfield Shire Council Mayor, Councillor Peter Petty was very enthusiastic about Council participation in the program.

“This provides the young student with the opportunity to gain knowledge not only regarding the difficulties of life as a rural doctor, but to experience the fantastic sense of community which they may never encounter in a city or larger centre.”

Amelia Fitzgerald, a second year medical student studying at the University of New England at Armidale took up the Scholarship and was placed at the Tenterfield Hospital from December 1 through to December 12 2014.

Amelia said that the project offered her fantastic practical experience and clinical exposure.

“During my placement I was given the opportunity to see how a rural hospital runs and how rewarding the work can be.

“I was very lucky to have a supportive Doctor who encouraged me to get as much practical experience as possible and who taught me so much.

“I was embraced by the community and the hospital staff, and the patients I saw were very accommodating and more than happy for me to have a go.”

Amelia also said the experience made her more aware of the challenges facing rural hospitals.

“With only two emergency beds, I saw how busy the Hospital could very quickly become.

“I realized how difficult it can be to get a GP appointment; patients had to travel to get any type of specialist care, as well as any imaging that wasn’t x-ray or ultrasound.

“I found the work to be both diverse and extremely rewarding.

“The GP at the hospital has a great deal of responsibility, and as a result their skill set is large, the work varied, and they have the opportunity to undertake procedures that a city GP might never do.

“I thoroughly enjoyed my experience of rural life, both professionally and personally, and feel that although there are many challenges for rural doctors which don’t exist for metropolitan doctors, there is a sense of community and camaraderie which underpins rural life.”