Sydney Med student wins recognition as a ‘champion of rural general practice’

Document Type

Media Release

Publication Date

Spring 15-10-2009

Publisher Name

The University of Notre Dame, Sydney Campus

Publication Place



2nd year medicine student from The University of Notre Dame Australia's Sydney Campus, Ms Anita Smith, has been awarded the 2009 Medical Undergraduate Student Bursary by the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners.

Dr Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Chair of the National Rural Faculty presented the award at their annual dinner as part of the GP’ 09 – The Conference for General Practice held in October.

The Bursary is offered to a medical student who is a member of a rural health student club at an Australian University. Applicants were asked to complete a short essay on the topic, How can rural GPs ‘Fill the Gap’ in wide open spaces.

In her introduction, Dr Kirkpatrick explained, “Anita Smith’s essay demonstrates a clear understanding of the role and importance of rural GPs in remote communities and the limitations the current shortage of GPs has in providing appropriate levels of health care outside capital cities.

“Her essay also addressed the issues of recruitment and retention of rural GPs, proposing a range of incentives (financial and non-financial) and greater advocacy of general practice as a challenging and rewarding career beginning at a university level.

“Advocacy at the community level is also proposed to improve the perception and understanding of the role a GP plays. Finally Ms Smith suggests that, ‘Rural GPs need to advocate at a government, university and medical association level, as well as through community reinforcement, so that they are able to fill the gaps that are present in the wide open spaces of Australia’.”

Ms Smith said that she felt very honoured to be selected as the recipient of the award.

“Not only was it such a privilege to be able to represent Notre Dame, but it was a remarkable opportunity to be able to express my thoughts on the ways that the health needs of all Australians can be improved,” she said.

“As a second year medical student, I am passionate about the future of the Australian health system. With more voices and advocacy we can pave the way so that the gaps in the ‘wide open spaces’ of Australian health can be filled.”

Also recognised at the dinner was Dr Sarah-Jane McEwan from the Queen Street Medical Clinic in Murwillumbah, NSW. Dr McEwan received The Rural Registrar of the Year 2009.

“It’s exciting to see the level of commitment and talent that the recipients of these awards bring to their work and studies – the future of general practice in rural and regional Australia is looking sound,” said Dr Kirkpatrick.

Media contact: Rebecca Palser 02 82044 409