Three rural doctors – Neil Africa, Ian Stewart and Cyril Latt - have been recognised for their mentoring of rural medical students through the 2018 RAMUS Mentor of the Year awards.
RAMUS, the Rural Australia Medical Undergraduate Scholarship Scheme, assists selected students with a rural background to study medicine at university. As part of the Scheme, all scholarship holders have a rural doctor as a mentor and Each year, RAMUS scholars are invited to nominate exceptional mentors for a Mentor of the Year award.
Dr Neil Africa of Torquay Victoria was nominated by Matthew Kenworthy who graduated from the University of Notre Dame Fremantle in 2018. In his nomination Matthew said:
“For the last four years Neil has been an invaluable mentor. While he has continually assisted me to develop my skills in regards to the science and art of medicine, it is the way he individually cares for each of his patients, taking an interest in their own lives and individual experiences to ensure their optimal care that I most admire.
“Neil has a wide range of patients including people who are of refugee and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander background. Neil’s passion to care for people with unmet needs has inspired my own drive to do the same. This year I spent time in an Aboriginal health care centre in Geraldton WA volunteering with one of the local communities. During previous years I spent over two months volunteering in a remote healthcare centre in Uganda providing medical care in an area once deemed so poor that it was called ‘mission impossible’ and had one of the highest rates of HIV AIDS and orphaned children in the world.
“Neil has been a role model for me in his endeavours for social justice and has continued to nurture my desire to work in rural Australia.”
Dr Ian Stewart from Brucedale NSW was nominated by Naomi Clements, a 5th year students at University of NSW. Naomi said:
“We have been meeting regularly for five years now – beginning in high school, continuing contact through 2014 when I deferred my medical degree, and now as I have passed the halfway point in my degree.
“Ian assisted me in editing my Phase 2 reflective portfolio early in the year, knowing I was disappointed with the marks from my Phase 1 submission. His advice and support boosted my confidence and I was rewarded with far better marks in my subsequent report. Additionally, he made himself available for regular meetings (prompting me if I ever fell out of contact for a few weeks!) and was always ready to work around my schedule.
He attended the Riverina Medical and Surgical Symposium, where I presented a poster based on my Independent Learning Project work this year. It meant so much to have him there, especially as I was to be presenting for the first time at a formal event.
Dr Cyril Latt, from St Marys Tasmania, was nominated by Jyoti Maulder who graduated from the University of Tasmania in 2018. Jyoti said:
“I was lucky enough to have had Cyril as my RAMUS mentor throughout my undergraduate studies.
“Over the multiple placements across the years of my medical degree, Cyril provided a dynamic and enriching learning environment. I was always given the opportunity to be involved in patient care to whatever capacity my current skill set allowed, from consultations in the GP clinic, to community hospital rounds or procedural skills in the emergency room. Each year as I progressed I was given more autonomy.
“In final years I saw my own patients, developed management plans and was able to see the results of the plans in follow up consults. These experiences showed me, first hand, the diversity and rewarding nature of rural medicine and provided me with an excellent preparation to my current internship.
“During my time at St Mary’s I witnessed the unique and special relationship an experienced, caring and dedicated rural general practitioner has with their community. The trust that is built by practitioners such as Cyril, has a profound impact on rural communities, their participation in health care, and thus overall health outcomes.
“I would like to recognise Cyril not only for his outstanding support for learning and generosity with teaching, but also, for his inspirational and exceptional commitment and service to the community of St Marys.”
The National Rural Health Alliance administers the RAMUS Scheme on behalf of the Australian Government Department of Health.