Plan to boost junior docs

Sophia ConstantineNorth West Telegraph
Anwyn Pyle outside Hedland Health Campus.
Camera IconAnwyn Pyle outside Hedland Health Campus. Credit: Picture: Sophia Constantine

A plan to expand a program for rural-based internships for junior doctors has received strong backing from a local medical student.

Anwyn Pyle is spending her third year of medicine in Port Hedland, after being selected as one of six students for the Rural Clincial School of WA program, which will see her complete her second last year of study in a rural setting.

Ms Pyle said the placement had provided the opportunity to experience rural medicine in a supported environment.

Her comments come as the The Rural Doctors Association of Western Australia last week called upon the State Government to enable more medical graduates to complete their first years as junior doctors in rural locations.

Ms Pyle said the opportunity to study in a rural setting had encouraged her to return to the country knowing how interesting medicine can be.

“Spending a year on placement has allowed me to have many more opportunities to learn and enhance my skills because there are far less students here,” she said.

A recent survey of medical students in WA found 58 per cent of those interviewed were interested in completing their internship in a rural-based hospital – however, only 10 students had the opportunity.

Ms Pyle said she was fortunate to be selected, as only one quarter of her year group had been chosen. “We also have the opportunity to come back as a junior doctor for 10 weeks and my experience this year has made me want to apply for a position in Port Hedland,” she said.

RDAWA doctor Andrew Kirke said while 2017 had seen the first intake of internships based entirely in rural WA communities, the precedent of locally trained doctors missing out on internships was concerning.

“It’s a really good first step, but it still represents less than 3 per cent of the total annual number of interns across Western Australia,” he said.

“Interest from medical students and new graduates in rural practice is sky high.”

Dr Kirke said there were missed opportunities for young doctors to experience the challenging, fulfilling and well-supported nature of working as an intern in rural WA. “With recent Federal funding incentives directed at creating these opportunities, there has never been a better time to create a training pathway into rural medical careers,” he said.

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