Medical emergencies and rural upbringing sparked the interest in rural health. Nurturing this passion was the JCU medicine program’s core focus on exposure to rural and remote health through extensive placements across Northern Queensland and beyond.
“JCU has provided us with life changing experiences and continually inspired us to pursue rural health. Ultimately, we have acquired the knowledge and skills to assist in the provision of healthcare in rural communities,” Bavelin says.
With rural placements in second, fourth, and sixth year, JCU medical students are not only receiving hands-on training experiences, they’re also actively contributing to the health care of rural and regional communities that are impacted by Australia’s maldistribution of doctors.
After over 3,375 hours of clinical placement, Bavelin says there are so many formative experiences that have got her to where she is today. One of the highlights was a six week placement with the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS), based out of Mount Isa, as part of a John Flynn Placement Scholarship.
“The unique exhilarating experience of flying to remote communities with the RFDS is unparalleled to anything I have experienced thus far,” Bavelin says. “We travelled to small rural and remote communities across North West Queensland. As you fly over those places, you’re struck by how vast and untouched the land is and that there are tiny pockets of people living in some of furthest corners of this beautiful country.”
As part of her RFDS placement, Bavelin assisted with aeromedical emergency evacuations and delivery of primary health care services. “I was fortunate to see how the RFDS constantly strives towards allowing those living in rural and remote areas to enjoy similar health outcomes as those living in cities.
Another highlight during the degree was a placement in North Dakota, USA as part of a Lynn Kratcha Memorial Bursary.
“It was an eye-opening experience observing doctors deliver essential health services to rural communities. Alongside clinical placements in the hospital and GP Clinic, I ws also immersed in the North Dakota culture. In my spare time I enjoyed ice fishing, sledding, flying, hunting, shooting and cross country skiing.”
In terms of core placements, the highlight of Bavelin’s sixth-year has been a 10 week placement in the Far North town of Mareeba earlier this year. It was there she honed her practical skills with a level of hands-on training opportunities that would be extremely rare experience for medical students in larger tertiary centres.
“Mareeba was such a rewarding experience. I scrubbed in for surgeries and colonoscopies, and assisted in the provision of care for patients in the ward and ED department. It felt like the past six years of knowledge and skills were all coming together when finally putting it into practise. This was evident through the positive health outcomes I witnessed for my patients which was heartwarming to see,” Bavelin says.
“Rural placements are where I learned the most. It’s in these places where you feel valued, where you’re filling a need and you’re part of the team.”