UNSW Rural Clinical School and its Coffs Harbour campus help strengthen rural healthcare and train the next generation of rural doctors. FOCUS caught up with Georgia Redmayne, who is currently studying at the facility to gain an insight into what it’s like to be a student doctor.
What course are you studying?
I am a third year student, studying the Bachelor of Medical Studies/Doctor of Medicine (BMed/MD) at UNSW.
Why did you choose to study this?
I have always been interested in anatomy, body systems and recovery from injury and disease. Health appealed to me as a career pathway that was stimulating, dynamic and centred on helping others. Furthermore, as a rural student I am passionate about addressing health inequities in rural and remote Australia.
How many years is the course?
Do you need to complete extra practical experience after this?
Most of my practical requirements are incorporated within my course. However, this is particularly well catered for by the Rural Clinical Campus at Coffs Harbour. Students here have access to hospital clinics and procedures, as well as a multitude of community services. Lecturers and doctors make time to teach as well as mentor students, which is much appreciated. Following graduation in sixth year, I’ll have to complete hospital-based internship and registry years prior to pursuing a specialisation training pathway.
What do you enjoy about attending the local school?
The Coffs Harbour Rural Clinical School is a friendly and welcoming environment to study within. Facilities are first class, and the ancillary staff make you feel at home. We have preferable student to staff ratios, which facilitates excellent bedside learning. Our campus has fantastic engagement in the local community, disseminating positive healthcare messages through events such as Teddy Bear Hospital and Health Careers Expo days.
The rural environment also nurtures a more relaxed lifestyle to pursue recreation activities and enjoy the company of other students (of all year groups). Our annual trip to the Coffs Cup race day was a particular highlight!
Is it of benefit being so close to a major health facility?
I live in accommodation quarters attached to the clinical school, which eliminates travel time and allows me to head into the hospital at any time to see patients and research particular cases. This is certainly a change from the commuting labyrinth in Sydney! For assignments I can easily access patients, and lecturers are never far away. Consequently I have more free time!
When you graduate, would you like to return to the local area?
Definitely. I am a rural student (originally from Alstonville on the Far North Coast), and my aim in studying medicine is to be of some help to the health of rural and remote communities disadvantaged by location. My placement here in Coffs Harbour has enabled me to witness some of the challenges in rural health firsthand and further reinforced this desire to “give back” to the community. I also feel that rural life is a healthier, more carefree option – who wouldn’t want to live by the beaches on the North Coast!
Do you see innovation and technology playing a large part in the future of health?
Yes, I feel that GPs in particular will become more technically savvy to address the inequalities and access issues in remote Australia. Digitalisation of medical records and continual advances in screening, imaging, and drug regimes will require the whole profession to embrace innovation and technology. I’ve always viewed medicine as a profession of lifelong learning, and I doubt this will change in the future!
What is it about the health sector that inspired you to study this course?
In addition to earlier sentiments, I have always been inspired by the importance of teamwork and collaboration between medical professionals in order to achieve positive patient outcomes. This appealed to my background and experience in sporting teams, where I have learnt to appreciate shared responsibility in striving to reach a goal.
Any advice for others who might be looking at studying at the local school and taking on this course?
Just give it a go. If you are interested in health and medicine, it is definitely a worthwhile opportunity, so don’t dismiss your chances! Each year UNSW have a large intake of rural students, and campus is always an exciting place to be. Current students are a great resource for tips on the application and interview process.
Outside of studying, do you relax by taking part in sports?
Sport has always been a central part of my life and a great way to balance the demands of medical study. Being in Coffs, I’ve definitely had more time for recreational activities this year. Our student body have entered teams in local multisports competitions, and I’ve also enjoyed competing in weekly social competitions as part of the Sawtell Tennis Club. As a member of the NSW Lend-Lease Breakers cricket team, I’ve been kept busy through regular flights to Sydney for squad commitments and grade games. I am extremely grateful that everyone on campus has supported both my medicine and sporting endeavours.
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