My rural placements have been one of the biggest influences on my perspectives as a medical student. Especially at the smaller sites, they’re a unique opportunity to learn directly from practising medical professionals who are often exceptionally good at what they do. It has been during these placements that I have made the largest improvements in terms of my practical skills as a student doctor.
I chose to go to the Central West because I had experienced the people out there as very welcoming. The presentations that came into the ED at Blackall were varied and interesting, so not only was it good on the social and community side, there was some really interesting medicine as well. On the first day, our placement supervisor, Dr Kieran Le Plastrier, basically said, you’re going to be supervised for this placement but our expectation, especially by the end, is you'll be a junior intern. It was my job to be in the ED with the PHO (Principal House Officer) and do what you'd expect a junior intern to do. We’d see patients, work them up, perform the investigations, interpret the investigations, formulate a management plan, get any input the supervisor wanted to make, and then put the management plan into action.
Working alongside Dr Graham was fantastic. Her being a JCU grad meant we had a bit of common ground, and we approach things the same way. She showed us how to extend what we'd been taught at JCU. I knew from previous students that undertaking a placement in the Central West meant that everyone would be friendly. However, I was surprised by how quickly I was made to feel like part of the community itself with no thought given to the relative brevity of my placement. Clinically, I was impressed by the skill of the doctors and nurses at the hospital and how willing they were to teach students. The staff at Blackall Hospital welcomed me readily and openly and we quickly developed a close working and personal relationship. My memories from Blackall will stay with me for the rest of my career.