Kimberley residents request more time with medical students

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Spring 12-10-2010

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame Australia, Fremantle Campus

Publication Place



An innovative medical training program coordinated by The University of Notre Dame Australia, aiming to expose medical students to the joys and challenges of remote-area life and health care, has proven to be highly successful.

The program, now in its fifth year, has been extended from seven to eight days in duration, at the request of Kimberley residents, to introduce students to the unique recreational and leisure activities enjoyed by locals in remote-areas.

During their week of immersion in remote-area life, 106 second-year medical students fulfil a number of tasks, in addition to medical training, from working at the local deli to mustering.

Students also enjoy a day of ‘down-time’ with their hosts, which they spend fishing, bush walking and participating in a range of local recreational activities.

Notre Dame Fremantle’s Acting Dean of Medicine, Dr Carole Steketee, said based on an immersion model of education, the students spend their week living and working with members of the local community to gain first-hand insight into life in a remote part of the State.

“At times, students are challenged by this experience. In most cases, however, it inspires them to consider what they can do after graduation to improve health care in remote Australia,” said Dr Steketee.

“The West Kimberley community’s request for students to spend quality leisure time with them is a testament to the program’s success.”

Head of Population and Preventive Health at Notre Dame, Professor Donna Mak, said in return for quality time and remote-area experience from Kimberley residents, students were expected to contribute to the work of their host organisations.

“These include pastoral stations, schools, remote Aboriginal communities, aged and child care centres and community radio stations, to mention just a few,” said Professor Mak.

“Remote and rural Australia is an area of unmet need. While the nature of remote-area medical practice might attract doctors to these areas, it’s not enough to keep them there.

“The doctors who stay and are effective are those who embrace the remote-area lifestyle and leisure activities, as well as their medical work.”

Professor Mak said more had to be done to ensure a continuity of medical care in remote-areas of Australia.

“If we are serious about wanting to address inequalities in health status between rural and remote Australians and their urban counterparts, or between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, we need to do everything in our power to encourage continuity of care, not a revolving door of doctors,” she said.

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Andrea Barnard (+61) 8 9433 0610, Mob (+61) 0408 959 138