Podcasts helping navigate rural medicine

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University of Sydney
Linda Cutler, Director, Western NSW Regional Training Hub, School of Rural Health

Destination Medicine LogoNational Rural Health Commissioner Professor Ruth Stewart recently zoom-launched several new episodes in the Destination Medicine© podcast series. These engaging podcasts are designed to help those navigating the maze of choices along the path from medical school to fully-fledged doctor. With more than 23 specialities, 81 fields of speciality practice and 86 speciality titles, young medical trainees face a difficult decision when it comes time to choose what area of medicine is for them.

The new Destination Medicine episodes in Series Two include a range of conversations with current doctors and specialists about their career choices, what they enjoy about their area of expertise and why they’ve chosen to work in various rural and regional locations.

“The podcasts provide another source of information in an accessible and creative way to help our emerging doctors make informed decisions about rural and regional training and their careers,” said Professor Stewart.

This is an exciting project for the network of Regional Training Hubs, which was created in 2017 by the Australian Government to, among other goals, better enable students and junior doctors intending to practice medicine rurally to complete most of their medical training within regional and rural areas. “Regional Training Hubs work with organisations involved in medical education and training, including universities, various workplaces, and public and private hospitals,” added Professor Stewart.

“We are all working to improve health outcomes for regional, rural and remote communities. This includes the coordination of all stages of medical training, so our future doctors maximise their opportunities and hopefully undertake as much of their medical training as possible within our regional and rural areas. Destination Medicine© is just one of those initiatives,” she said. 

Episode 1 – Sarah Wenham 

Whoever said a rural life would be quieter? Dr Sarah Wenham started her medical career in the city of Manchester in the United Kingdom. After qualifying in palliative care, she moved to Blackpool with a catchment area of 330,000 people. Then, to Australia and Broken Hill. The contrast couldn’t have been more extreme. But Sarah has embraced her role as the only specialist palliative care physician in this region of Australia, and she’s loving it.

Episode 2 – Sarah Moore

Dr Sarah Moore covered huge tracks in her career development in Western Australia. But she never lost track of her colleagues and mentors, nor of her love for obstetrics and the privilege, as she calls it, of bringing babies into the world. As a rural doctor at heart, Sarah has found her place in Busselton, but her expertise takes her further afield.

Episode 3 – Paul Lunney

These days, Dr Paul Lunney considers himself a Jack of all trades – and that’s just how he likes it, using the wide skillset he’s developed to care for his patients at Dubbo Family Doctors in Dubbo, New South Wales. He finds his GP role incredibly rewarding and he loves living and working in such a welcoming rural community. Yet a rural setting wasn’t quite what he had in mind when he set out in his GP training. Everything changed when, as a third-year medical student, he took a placement in Dubbo. He loved it, wanted to stay, and returned after qualification to settle in Dubbo as a practising GP.

Episode 4 – Mark Arnold

Associate Professor Mark Arnold is the Head of the School of Rural Health Dubbo/Orange, as well as a practising rheumatologist in western New South Wales. In fact, Mark Arnold has so many roles in his extraordinarily busy life that it’s hard to know how he fits everything in. He loves the rural life – something he would suggest anyone interested in medicine should consider. If the opportunity arises, he says, give it a go!  But for all his achievements in the field of medicine today, Mark Arnold will tell us that life didn’t start out so auspiciously, and medicine was not top of the list of career choices when he was still a young lad.

Destination Medicine – Student Series

In addition to the mainstream series, Destination Medicine has added a new series which has been designed to provide insights from medical students around Australia about their experiences in applying to study medicine. This series was released and officially launched on zoom by the Australian Medical Students Association (AMSA) Chair Sarah Clark on 11 November 2020.

Ms Clark enthused about the variety of the stories of the application process from medical students. “For me, these podcasts enhance the wealth of information found on university medical school websites. These podcasts are a personalised, accessible and equitable source of information for rural and regional high school students too.”

 Sarah congratulated the national Regional Training Hubs on adding to the information available to support high school and non-medical students interested in studying medicine, especially where this interest lay in regional and rural study and training.

“Not every pathway into rural medicine is a straight-forward one and these stories are so candid and encouraging. The practical advice offered in the podcasts is particularly useful during this time, where other face-to-face opportunities to hear about the process of applying to study medicine have had to be restricted,” Ms Clark said.

Episode 1 – Angus McGinness

After a dabble at architecture, it was radiology that brought Angus McGinness into health.  But it was medicine that finally engaged Angus to his long-term career. His biggest message: you don’t have to be the-best-of-the-best to gain entry. There are many pathways into medical school – you just need to investigate your best options, understand the processes involved, and get going! 

Episode 2 – Imogine Hines

How does a city girl and professional cyclist find a passion for rural medicine – and how could not speaking Norwegian change an entire career path? But that’s been the case for one student whose fateful choice to embrace medicine has taken her to Wagga Wagga and she wouldn’t be anywhere else.

Episode 3 – Bree Gardoll

Even in primary school Bree Gardoll had started thinking about being a doctor. There were no doctors in her Goondiwindi family but with the encouragement of family and friends, and with a lot of planning, her application into medical school was successful and she’s now well on her way. How did she do it?

Episode 4 – Anna Leckie

What do you do when you love jazz saxophone and you love medicine? Both, of course! That’s what Anna Leckie did in pursuing a first degree in music before heading straight into medicine. Now she has no regrets on either front, and returning to the School of Rural Health in Orange as a 4th year post graduate medical student has provided her with the best of both worlds.    

All episodes are available at www.destinationmedicine.com.au or on your usual podcast platform – just search for destination medicine



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