Up-and-coming doctors, who hadn't thought of a country-based career before their road trip on Sunday, are now seriously considering going rural after getting their degrees.
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A busload of 20 medical students from Sydney did a four-day tour of the Central West ending in Orange, which included stops in Mudgee, Coonabarabran, Coonamble, Brewarrina, Nyngan and Parkes.
Studying a Doctor of Medicine at the University of Notre Dame, first-year student Samuel Hall, 27, now feels "adamant" his future career will settle in the west.
"We're always told that there's a massive need for more doctors in the country, but it's not until you meet people on the ground that you really see it," Mr Hall told ACM.
"It's only when you hear their stories about the true lack of access to health care out here, that it really hits you."
Hosted and funded by the NSW Rural Doctors Network (RDN), it was the third "Go Rural" trip this year.
Finishing at the Orange Health Service was a highlight of Mr Hall's, who said he felt "pretty lucky" to talk with RDN cadets who are now interning in the colour city.
"It's definitely driven home that point of need from an exposure perspective, which didn't take to feel convinced that regional hospitals are great places to be in," he said.
"Seeing first-hand the extensive set of skills that are already out here, there is some extremely good, hands-on medical training on offer out here."
Mr Hall, who grew up on the Gold Coast and now lives in Sydney, also beamed when talking about a home-stay on a farm out in Coonabarbran.
Along with a unique sheep shearing stint, he said the farming family's hospitality was second to none.
It's only when you hear their stories about the true lack of access to health care, that it really hits you.- Medical student from Sydney, Samuel Hall on the realisation that country areas are desperate for more health recruits.
"They opened up their home to nearly 30 people with a home-cooked meal," he said, "and it was that incredibly welcoming country spirit that people talk about, but rarely get to experience."
In her final year of studying medicine through Western Sydney University, Lavina Mital, 29, said she'd still struggle to move away from the city, with her strong family ties in Sydney.
But after not being on her radar previously, she's now considering short stints in the west after the trip "shifted something" in her thinking.
"Knowing that some full-term women during pregnancy have to travel 165 kilometres travel just to access particular antenatal care, it makes me feel like I've taken the access [of heath services in urban areas] for granted," she said.
"Some people have to wait for a cardiologist to fly in once every three months, or wait 16 hours for imaging and bloods to return with shorter clinic hours.
"It's changed me from thinking it was 'all or nothing' to pick between the city or the country, but now, I'd consider doing fly-in/fly-out work as well."
It makes me feel like I've taken the access [of heath services in urban areas] for granted.- Medical student, Lavina Mital on seeing first-hand how rural communities struggle with access to health care.
Since 2019, the Go Rural trips have provided more than 300 students with opportunities to experience a multitude of varied benefits attached to working and living in rural communities.
Students meet a list of health professionals, as well as community leaders and residents in town and living on the land, which has led to following a career in the regional health landscape.
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