Doctors come to town: conference to encourage rural practice among future GPs

120 first year medicine students gather at the
Lithgow Clinical School for the 2014 Rural Conference.
Photo credit: Lithgow Mercury.

24 April 2014

A conference held on Tuesday 15 April at The University of Notre Dame Australia's Lithgow Clinical School showcased rural medicine to 120 first year Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery students in the hope of inspiring future rural practitioners.

Now in its seventh year, the 2014 Rural Conference included lectures on rural health issues, GP panel discussions, and tours of Lithgow Hospital and the local mines rescue facility.

Notre Dame alumni were in attendance to speak with students about what inspired them to practice in a rural area including Dr Chantal McGrath, now an Emergency Department Registrar in Wagga Wagga.

"Practicing medicine in a rural area gives you the opportunity to truly make a difference in the lives of others," Dr McGrath said.

"There are always plenty of challenges involved and very unique challenges to the rural environment. I would highly recommend students take their clinical placements as an opportunity to get to know local communities and observe the impact health and wellbeing has on the lives of rural citizens."

Associate Professor John Dearin, Head of the Lithgow Clinical School believes it's never too soon to show students the benefits of rural practice and how critical health professionals are to the local community.

"Practicing in a rural area can be a very rewarding experience for health professionals, as many of our alumni who have gone on to practice in rural communities can tell you," Associate Professor Dearin said.

"For a lot of the students, this conference will be their first exposure to rural practice and we hope it will uncover a passion in them to help smaller communities. By introducing students to rural practice early on in their studies we hope to draw some of them away from the allure of those big city lights and inspire them to help rural communities."

Training for the professions is one of the Objects of Notre Dame and through its commitment to Rural Clinical Schools in Lithgow, Wagga Wagga, and Ballarat, the University hopes to assist in the shortage of health practitioners in rural communities.

Hannah Guilfoyle: Tel (02) 8204 4141;