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Bid to attract rural doctors

Danielle RaffaeleNorth West Telegraph
RCSWA medical coordinator Rob Whitehewl (third from left) with medical students Raphin Hossain, Erin Hassett, Nicholas Chatman, Olivia Shannon, Dylan Boggetti and Marini Perera.
Camera IconRCSWA medical coordinator Rob Whitehewl (third from left) with medical students Raphin Hossain, Erin Hassett, Nicholas Chatman, Olivia Shannon, Dylan Boggetti and Marini Perera.

At the best of times, studying to become a medical GP can be tough with students facing gruelling hours, practical assessments and intense study. But imagine doing all this during a global pandemic.

That is what happened to six interns at Port Hedland’s Rural Clinical School of WA.

But they agreed that despite COVID-19, they always had a desire to work rurally.

And their newfound love for regional practice could not be more significant, with the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners urging fledgling GPs to “go rural” in 2021 to fulfil an urgent need for targeted health care in the State’s far-flung towns.

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RACGP rural chair Dr Michael Clements said major world events made the need to go rural more urgent.

“Rural and remote communities have faced fires, floods and now COVID-19,” he said. “GPs training in a rural or remote community will find great variety, which really sets you up for a medical career with endless possibilities.”

Meanwhile in South Hedland, RCSWA, which facilitates training for medical students across rural WA, has been a platform for those interested in rural practice to gain valuable hands-on experience.

RCSWA medical co-ordinator Rob Whitehewl said that research conducted by the training facility showed targeted support for students in remote communities would encourage more to pursue a career in the country where access to targeted medical aid is vital.

“Having a positive rural experience for students, which is what we are hoping these folks will get this year, does inspire people to come back,” he said.

“We just need to make sure they are supported when they say they want to come back, that the jobs are there to come back to and that the training gives them the skills they need to provide the sort of care people here want and need.”

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