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November 6, 2013

Students get a flavour of rural medicine

From left to right - Rebecca Craw, Delwyn Munn and Matthew Chamberlain

Pictured from left to right: Rebecca Craw, Delwyn Munn and Matthew Chamberlain

Three fifth year medical students called the West Coast home this year thanks to the University of Otago's Rural Medical Immersion Programme (RMIP). The course sends 20 students into rural communities around New Zealand every year as part of an initiative to grow the numbers of rural doctors.

The three students, Rebecca Craw, Delwyn Munn and Matthew Chamberlain are based at Grey Hospital and are supervised by Dr Emma Boddington and supported by Juliette Reese together with the Rural Learning Centre team.

Rebecca, who has worked at Grey Hospital on the wards, birthing suite and ED, and in general practice at the West Coast DHB's five clinics in South Westland says the times spent in South Westland are among the highlights of her year on the Coast. "It makes you realise how important it is for rural doctors to have really sound clinical knowledge. Referring a patient who lives in a remote location to a specialist or another colleague often means a lot time and travel for the patient. The doctor and Rural Nurse Specialist become even more important and involved in patient care in these kinds of situations" she says. "It's also an incredibly beautiful part of the world."

The Rural Medical Immersion Programme is an apprenticeship model that Rebecca says will give her the edge over her urban-based peers.

"There might be 100 students at a big city hospital, while here on the Coast there are only three of us. We have a lot more patient contact, and more opportunities to get involved with procedures and go to theatre. I feel more confident that I can deal with a wide range of illnesses and injuries now than before the programme."

While Rebecca had the option of six different places to train, she says "hands down" the West Coast was her first choice. "I like the idea of working somewhere with a hospital as well as GP clinics. It also has a reputation for being very beautiful and, as I love to tramp and the area is world renowned for its hiking trails, it seemed the perfect choice."

She says having three students at the hospital means she has the opportunity to bounce ideas and share information with her peers.

"I really feel that at the end of this year I will have the confidence to make a difference and actually help out the medical teams during my training placements next year."

Established by Dr Pat Farry in 2007, the programme aims to encourage students to return to work in a rural setting, and Rebecca says it's more than likely she will come back to the Coast.

Current Programme Director, Dr Branko Sijnja says that recent research is supporting the premise that Doctors who are trained rurally, are more likely to return to rural settings. In the last couple of years the WCDHB has enjoyed at least four graduates of the RMIP coming to the Coast as RMOs.



For more information please contact:

Erin Jamieson
Communications Team
m: 021 743 237
t: 03 769 7400
Corporate - West Coast District Health Board | Grey Base Hospital, PO Box 387, Greymouth 7840

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