Rural Clinical Cocktail Party

Wed, 14 Jun 2017

As the sun set over Central West Queensland, a group of rural health enthusiasts came together to celebrate a common interest with a most unique professional networking opportunity, The 2017 Club RHINO Longreach Clinical Cocktail Party.

Taking place on the Easter long weekend, the inaugural event was held at the Outback Yacht Club (furthest yacht club from any coastline in the world). This beautiful setting is located on a cattle station between Longreach and Ilfracombe, in the heart of outback Queensland. Over 50 people attended, with students travelling from as far north as Cairns and Mount Isa in the west. Longreach locals got around the event too, with hospital staff from a variety of different disciplines joining in on the night. Those from rural clinical schools in Emerald, Barcaldine and Winton also made the journey and Club RHINO’s Longreach Express service from Townsville was well utilised, collecting students and junior health staff from Charters Towers on their way.

While the outback may be associated with ‘doing it tough’, guests were spoilt! Upon arriving on the shores of the Outback Yacht Club’s waterside setting, attendees were greeted with canap├ęs  and an incredible Western Queensland sunset. A selection of beverages were available to compliment the occasion. As the stars came out, a delicious two-course meal was served by the Outback Yacht Club’s husband and wife duo, Dan and Brooke Walker. Not long after, a bonfire was lit, country music turned up and the party was in full swing. Whilst working his way around the fireplace, one guest was heard exclaiming, “the amount of dust you kick boot scooting is proportional to how good of a night you’re having!”. Everyone was covered in red dirt by the early hours of the morning.

The event was thanks to the vision of 6th year medical student Fraser McBean, who saw an opening for students and staff of Western Queensland to have their own professional networking event. The evening was co-organised by 6th year student, Georgia Henry, and supported by North Queensland’s Student Rural Health Club, RHINO. All proceeds were donated to Heart of Australia in supporting accessible cardiology services for rural and remote Queensland.

Thanks to such an overwhelming response from students, the Longreach Clinical Party will become a permanent fixture on the Club RHINO calendar, with the team already planning the 2018 event. This will most likely see it re-titled the Club RHINO Rural Cocktail Party, with the aim of being hosted at a different rural site for each of the coming years.

Coincidentally, this year’s Easter long weekend also marked 27-years since the Rural Doctors Association of Queensland (RDAQ) held their second ever meeting and first official AGM in Longreach. The landscape for rural health in Queensland was very different during this time. There no rural clinical schools, very few placement opportunities for students and junior staff in outback Queensland and the thought of having a medical school at JCU was non-existent. It is incredible to think how far we’ve come since this time and the Club RHINO Longreach Clinical Cocktail Party was a fantastic way to mark such an achievement. The coming together of students, junior doctors and senior health professionals for an event such as the this reaffirms the vibrancy and reward that health careers in Western Queensland have to offer.

Rural Health in the Northern Outback (Club RHINO) is the Student Rural Health Club of North Queensland. They aim to promote rural health issues and opportunities within the disciplines of medicine, dentistry, nursing, paramedicine, pharmacy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy, speech pathology, biomedicine, exercise science and social work. Club RHINO provides an abundance of rewarding activities and opportunities for its members, such as: rural experience weekends, rural high school visits, guest speaker events, clinical skills nights, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural events, scholarship assistance and conference bursaries, social events and an unparalleled degree of personalised assistance with all things rural. Meetings are held on the 2nd Tuesday of every month, AGMs are held in September. If you would like to become more involved in organising events such as the Longreach Clinical Cocktail Party, become a member today! Applications for 2018 committee positions open in August, this is the best way to become more involved in your Student Rural Health Club.

Thomas Currie

President, Club RHINO

James Cook University