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Future doctors delve into rural health

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University of Tasmania medical students undertaking their first year of study in Hobart are embarking on a rural health experience today (Monday, 29 April 2019).

Rural Week is an annual program that sees aspiring doctors travelling to the North and North-West of the State to learn about health issues outside of the capital.

Students will have the opportunity to put their medical knowledge and skills into practice as they participate in simulated emergency exercises and health stations.

The first years will spend time at regional hospitals, local farms and in the bush to get a better understanding of the advantages and challenges for rural communities.

Tasmania’s Aboriginal community will host the students during on-country visits to Narawntapu National Park to share insight into Indigenous history and health.

Dr Lizzi Shires, Director of the Rural Clinical School (RCS), said it was important for students to experience rural health early in their medical education.

“People living in rural communities often face a different set of challenges to those living in the city,” Dr Shires said.

“There are often poorer health outcomes in rural and regional areas, and many patients have to travel to access health care services.

“Rural Week allows students to see the challenges and advantages of working rurally through working with doctors, patients and RCS staff.

“It is important that all students understand these issues so they can provide rural patients with appropriate care after they qualify.”

Associate Professor Jan Radford from the Launceston Clinical School (LCS) said students would also learn about training opportunities in the North and North-West regions.

“The Launceston and Rural Clinical Schools welcome students to the North and North-West of Tasmania, introducing them to the training opportunities they can take up in the last two to three years of their medical degree, and in their post-graduate years.”

“It is important for students to experience the welcoming communities, including committed and skilled teachers, that await them, should they spend future years based in Launceston or Burnie, as part of their training.”

“We know that the greater the length of time medical students spend training in rural areas the more likely they are to eventually work in rural areas. By starting exposure to regional and rural life in year one students often decide to spend more time in Launceston and Burnie in the later years of the training.”

Source: UTAS

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