300 future doctors want more experience out in the country

26 May, 2009

Later this year, 300 medical students will pack their bags and head for country towns and small rural communities across Australia.

The 300 future doctors are now being selected from more than 600 who applied for a place in the John Flynn Placement Program. Each will spend two weeks a year over four years in one location experiencing rural medical practice and getting to know local people.

The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, which manages the placement program for the Department of Health and Ageing, is now looking for 300 communities to host the students and 300 doctors to be student mentors. Community Service organisations, doctors, and home-stay hosts are paid for participating in the program.

Chair of ACRRM’s John Flynn national advisory committee, Dr Lucie Walters, said that the program provides students with continuity of relationship with a GP and community over four years, and gives medical students a real feel for what it’s like to live and work in rural and remote communities.

“Most medical students grow up in larger towns and cities,” Dr Walters explains. “It is hard for them to grasp the variety of work and the independence doctors enjoy in rural and remote communities, and how highly their communities value them.”

“And students who enjoy their placements are more likely to consider rural medicine as a career.”

Dr Walters said ACRRM would like to hear from experienced doctors who would like to mentor a student, and from local government, community groups and individuals who can introduce a student to social and recreation activities, and possibly help arrange accommodation.