6 October, 2022
Health students get a taste of rural life
FIRST year health students have had a taste of what it would be like to work in a rural or remote area during a recent trip to the Atherton Tablelands as part of three Health Workforce Queensland’s GROW Rural Programs, aimed at encouraging them to return and work in the region.
The program is focused on ensuring remote, rural, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities have access to highly skilled health professionals when and where they need them, now and into the future.
It is being supported by Northern Queensland Primary Health Network (NQPHN) over the next three years.
GROW Rural NQ presents first-year medical, nursing, midwifery, dentistry, and allied health students with a unique experience to develop familiarity and a deeper understanding of the potential of a professional and personal life they could have working in rural Queensland.
By cultivating strong connections with the health workforce community and the broader community, the GROW Rural program encourages health students to return to rural communities for their clinical placements and to consider rural practice as a future career opportunity.
HWQ Future Workforce team leader Meredith Connor said the 25 students visited Atherton, Ravenshoe, and Mareeba.
“Mulungu Aboriginal Corporation Medical Centre welcomed the students with fantastic cultural activities including traditional dance and an art workshop in which the students painted boomerangs and clapsticks,” Ms Connor said.
She said the activities over the three days included visiting the Ravenshoe and Atherton Talking Circles with local community residents and health professionals who shared their personal and professional journeys and a visit to Granite Gorge Nature Park to enjoy nature and the wildlife.
They also did skill sessions based on the 1987 Gillies Range fatal bus crash disaster scenario, rotating the students through the patient journey from first responder to ED, followed by rehabilitation, psychological wellbeing and a specific suturing session.
Mareeba families billeted the GROW Rural students on a Saturday night which allowed the students to experience what it was like to live rurally and shared a community meal at the Ant Hill Hotel.
“We also had local high school and sixth year JCU students volunteer as casualties and look forward to connecting with them again next year,” Ms Connor said.
“The skill session facilitators who so generously shared their time, knowledge, skills, and passion made the sessions the highlight of the day.
“It was great to experience how engaged the communities became with GROW Rural over the course of the weekend and their eagerness to be part of next year’s event.”
Wesley Ruff, who is studying nutrition and dietetics at Griffith University on the Gold Coast, said he “loved being introduced to the difference between living in the rural community and the workforce”.
“I think there is a lot more that goes into everything than actually meets the public eye and that’s important for individuals such as ourselves to be exposed to,” he said.
Kacey Lynch, who is a psychology student at James Cook University in Townsville, said GROW NQ “was such an amazing opportunity to meet new people, both professionals and peers”.
“I really enjoyed getting a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes in rural practice and getting to practise some skills firsthand,” she said.
HWQ CEO Chris Mitchell said HWQ was delighted to take the GROW Rural Program to North Queensland following the success of the program in Central Queensland and Southwest Queensland.
“It was great to see such enthusiasm from our future remote and rural health workforce and we are so pleased that we are able to partner with NQPHN and work with the communities and key stakeholders in Northern Queensland to provide workforce solutions,” Mr Mitchell said.