Medical Students visit the Wheatbelt
The University of Notre Dame, Fremantle
No two medical degrees are the same, and the new Notre Dame programme is proving to be no exception to the rule. Recognising the demand for a greater supply of doctors to rural communities, the School of Medicine at Notre Dame presented its first round of students to the unique and special demands of rural life with their April Rural Week experience in the Wheatbelt communities of Kellerberrin, Cunderdin, and Merredin. The first year cohort of 81 students were warmly received by the communities, who personally billeted students on their private properties, and provided real insight into what ‘living in a rural community’ means; the students visited the local hospital, attended expert tutorials provided by locals, helped in gaining vital statistics of the town for public health research teams, and took part in the community service. Here’s what medical student Pallas O’Hara thought:
“The students in our course come from a diverse background, both in what we have studied previously and also our levels of experience in rural lifestyles. It was interesting to see how different people took on the task of learning about life on a farm, life in a small town, and the practice of farming itself. There was many a picture taken of landscapes, people, places and huge farming machinery, which we learned more often than not came with GPS! This is an amazing use of technology, and as Ali G explained later could also be helpful as a ‘Girlfriend Provider Service’!
A personal highlight: on a visit to the school, I had the amazing opportunity to see the unique system that Kellerberrin has in practice, and was so impressed by what I saw. Coming from a university that has its own distinctive teaching style, I was very interested to see the response of the students, to see how they managed their roles. To see young children (in the ‘Pre-to-three’ class) so enthusiastic about their school work and functioning so well in such an encouraging environment put me on a high for the rest of the afternoon!
Going home with our host families that afternoon was an experience in itself, driving along the stretch of road home in the dusk was a sight for sore city eyes. And all this was to be topped off by a welcoming family, beautiful dinners and long after dinner chats about life in the bush, and the special concerns of our rural community. As we spent more time in the homes of out host families we came to feel more and more at home, and big thanks again to my own host ‘parents’ for their fantastic welcome between the students and communities”.
If the success of Rural Week was to be determined, then a tangible indicator would be the clear bonds formed.
Medical student Michelle Greene said, “The strength of the relationships formed shows the success of the week, the fact that I’m welcome to stay anytime and the strong family bonds which is what keeps the town together is one of the reasons I would come back and work with Kellerberrin community”.
The students would like to thank all those involved with Rural Week for making it such a success. Until we meet again,
Notre Dame Medical Students of 2005.
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Ebbs, Michelle, "Medical Students visit the Wheatbelt" (2005). Media Release Archive. 515.