Medical students visit town

Michael TraillNarrogin Observer
Student doctor Christine van Deventer with Narrogin Primary School’s Tanner during the ‘teddy bear clinic’.
Camera IconStudent doctor Christine van Deventer with Narrogin Primary School’s Tanner during the ‘teddy bear clinic’. Credit: Michael Traill

The Wheatbelt Medical Student Immersion Program, which was in Narrogin last week, could encourage future doctors to move to the region after graduation.

About 140 medical students from the program spent last week in Wheatbelt towns including Corrigin, Cunderdin and Narrogin, in an effort to shift student perceptions about rural medicine early in their studies.

Notre Dame University senior lecturer Rachel Hall, who accompanied the student contingent in Narrogin, said the experience had exposed students to the reality of country living.

“The last group when I came down were literally expecting Narrogin to have gravel roads and tumbleweed,” she said.

“But they came down and said, ‘Oh, there’s a recreation centre. Oh, there’s a cafe. Oh, there’s a swimming pool’.

“Then they start to think ‘maybe I could live here. Maybe it would be quite nice’.”

Students in the program engaged with various community groups while staying with host families, which gave them an insight into country living and firsthand experience with the challenges of accessing medical care in regional community.

“What we really want to achieve is to encourage students to come live and work in the country or at the very least, have more of an understanding in what the health challenges and issues are forpeople that come from the country,” Dr Hall said.

“So when they are working in the city, they would have a bit more compassion and understanding of what you’re facing in the regions.”

On their final day, the students visited Narrogin and East Narrogin primary schools for “teddy bear clinics”.

“It’s basically just getting kids used to talking to doctors and getting them to be less afraid of some of the things doctors might have to do to them if they’re sick or unwell,” Notre Dame student Christine van Deventer said.

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