School of Rural Health opens doors to aspiring doctors

Dubbo College Senior Campus students Holly Fish, Natalie Roth, Merin West, Grace Peskett, Jaimee Nixon, Megan Maxwell and Chernise Warren. Photo: JENNIFER HOAR
Dubbo College Senior Campus students Holly Fish, Natalie Roth, Merin West, Grace Peskett, Jaimee Nixon, Megan Maxwell and Chernise Warren. Photo: JENNIFER HOAR

An information session at Dubbo’s medical school has highlighted the many and varied paths to becoming a doctor, and the rewarding careers available throughout the health sector.

Thirteen Dubbo high school students – all of them female – attended last week’s Pathways to Medicine session at the University of Sydney, School of Rural Health (SRH).

There they heard from junior medical officers (JMOs) and other health professionals about the value of studying rurally.

“When you’re a medical student in the bigger centres, you’re just on of the group but when you come out to a rural centre like here, Taree or Armidale, you actually know the specialist you’re working with – they greet you by name,” SRH research manager Karen Paxton said.

“You get involved much quicker in things so you’ve got that much more hands-on experience as a medical student … and being immersed in the community that they work in.”

The students were also shown how to perform CPR, and had the chance to practice on one of the school’s high-tech mannequins.

“It was definitely very hard,” Dubbo College Senior Campus student Megan Maxwell said.

“It was very interesting to know how to do it properly, with the help of the professionals here.”

The year 11 student said the session had made her “more aware” of “all the different pathways of getting into medicine”.

In the past, students would finish the Higher School Certificate and go straight into medical school, or study the likes of nursing or biomedical science before entering a graduate program.

But Ms Paxton said “there are so many pathways now”.

“One of [the JMOs] did an engineering degree first and then went into medicine. One of the other JMOs has got a scholarship through the defence forces,” she said,

“Any sort of career in health is what we need in a rural area. So if you train as a nurse or a physio before doing medicine, you’ve then got opportunities to work part-time doing those health careers, and it gives you an idea if you’re not sure if you want to do medicine.

“The main thing is just to be persistent … don’t feel limited by your options. That’s the message.”