A NUMBER of University of Melbourne medical students study and learn how to be a doctor at Bendigo Health each year.
Many of us are former Bendigo high students. Our backgrounds range from Weeroona College to Catholic College, and most of us maintain a relationship with our former schools in some form.
We all love our community, and that’s why we chose to come home for our clinical training.
But while many of us are home, several UniMelb students living and studying in Bendigo this year aren’t local. They have learned to love our community through an initiative known as Rural High School Visits.
The RHSV program is co-ordinated nationally by university students of the National Rural Health Students’ Network with support from Rural Health Workforce Australia.
The University of Melbourne’s Rural Health Club, Outlook, runs RHSVs in Bendigo; so far this year we have co-ordinated two at Weeroona College.
The RHSV program was developed to encourage students from regional, rural and remote areas to pursue tertiary education – particularly health degrees. We target Year 8, 9 and 10 students as research suggests that these years are best for promoting a health career (given that VCE students may have already dropped the subjects they need to attend university).
During an RHSV we talk about the basic steps required to get to university and to pursue a health degree, then run a series of workshops ranging from learning how to plaster fingers and analyse x-rays, to taking blood pressure with stethoscopes and eliciting reflexes with tendon hammers.
The Weeroona College community has embraced the RHSV program, and while it has been rewarding for WCB students and medical students returning home to Bendigo, it has perhaps been even more rewarding for medical students with no involvement or ties to the Bendigo community.
Colleague and fellow UniMelb medical student James Sgroi is from Leeton, NSW, but is studying in Bendigo this year. He’s attended both the WCB RHSVs and has become so enthusiastic about the program and engaging with the Greater Bendigo community that he’s now taking the lead on organising an RHSV in Castlemaine.
The RHSV program was developed for high school students, but benefits so many more people and provides a unique avenue for non-local health students to become local.
I hope that some of the young people at our RHSVs are inspired to become the rural health workers of the future. I also hope that the Greater Bendigo community continues to welcome and involve medical students returning home just as equally as those that have never been here before, because we are all becoming your rural health workers of right now.