For University of Wollongong student doctor Tim Roach, a 12-month stint in Broken Hill was a ‘fantastic experience’, bringing him into contact with a diverse range of challenges.
Additionally, it has encouraged him to consider returning to rural practice after he graduates.
Tim also spent over eight weeks working in Wilcannia and participated in five RFDS SE Section remote clinics.
“There was a real educational benefit in seeing patients who live in these rural and remote places and who don’t get to see their GPs as often as they would like,” Tim said.
“And the main thing in participating in RFDS clinics is you get to see the difficulty and challenges in treating patients who are so far away from specialist care.”
Tim said he found Broken Hill a great place to live. He enjoyed socialising with other medical and nursing students.
“And I did all the touristy stuff as well.”
But it was the exposure to medical conditions not as common in city areas that Tim found so interesting and challenging.
“You see people presenting with things that you wouldn’t normally see in an urban area, where patients are much closer to their doctors.”
One example was Orf disease, a viral condition humans contract after being in contact with an animal suffering from scabby mouth.
Tim said he also enjoyed being involved in an emergency scenario at Broken Hill Airport.
“The responsibilities and expectations on being a doctor, even a junior doctor, are very high.
“There’s so much to learn and not much time to learn it in, to be honest.
“I felt my time in Broken Hill was really well utilised … the diversity of experiences was terrific. I am now thinking more seriously about practising in a rural area.”
People living in rural and remote areas are more than five times as likely as those living in major cities to travel more than an hour to see a GP, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
The RFDS SE continues to work closely with a number of organisations in training the next generation of rural health workers.