Arthur Chee and Michael Chan wax lyrical on Griffith

image - Arthur Chee and Michael Chan wax lyrical on GriffithArthur Chee and Michael Chan –5th Year medical students reflect on their rural placement in Griffith

We couldn’t say that we were thrilled at the beginning to be sent a 7-hour drive from Sydney, away from the conveniences of city life and everything reachable within a 5 minute drive. To top it all off there was an excruciatingly long but necessary introduction/orientation on the first day – the signs were ominous. But how wrong we were...

Arthur: Obstetrics and Gynaecology

“Going rural” as they say, incites a fair amount of stigma from us metropolitan students. Resources? Probably few and far between. Funding? Miniscule. Social life? Country townsfolk have nothing on us (debatable, depending on the audience). But what they lack, they make up in heart, generosity and most importantly for us students, excellent teaching. Hence began my four week stint in Obstetrics and Gynaecology. Gone were the large entourage of consultants, registrars, residents and interns. In their place, two consultants who rotated on a fortnightly basis, a single registrar and a formidable team of midwives who together offered the utmost care for women and soon-to-be-mothers. Acquainting myself with everyone was thoroughly enjoyable and their guidance and willingness to help was worth their weight in gold. The teamwork capability, check!

Being the only student there, I was given the opportunity to experience all facets of obstetrics/gynaecology under the guise of different professions (and in the process, be the only susceptible prey to all sorts of academic ambush!). This also meant I had much more contact with my consultant whom I saw everyday – a rarity in the city. The opportunity to get hands-on experience was incredible and witnessing and assisting in the miracle of life was amazing! Whether the same experience can be had in the city is somewhat limited by numerous variables – other students, increased staffing, increased patient numbers, etc. Did I also mention that getting all those skills and assessments signed off is a relatively easy task?

Mike: Surgery

A number of things struck me; firstly there were multiple consultants who did daily rounds together in a single surgical team for the whole hospital. Next were the diversity of cases from gastro/colonoscopies, laparocopic +/- open hemicolectomies, hernia repairs, carpal tunnel release, venous ligation, cholecystectomies and of course, the acute appendix that required removal. Putting one and two together this meant that on a daily basis I was being grilled left, right and centre on almost any topic to the nth degree.

I believe that in comparison to my urban surgical term, there are significant opportunities to actually get a more hands-on experience as surgeons develop their confidence in you. You’re not fighting against the intern/resident/registrar / fellow to do something. Rather, there is a wonderfully controlled and supportive environment to assist and engage in many surgical and anaesthetic procedures.

Life outside the hospital:

Fresh food and good wine were part of the unexpected delights. We frequently found ourselves outside of hospital for lunch in many well-regarded cafes, with everything located quite nicely in the town centre. Whether it was tasting some of the finest cuisine in Australia, discovering the history of the place and its people or learning what it means to work in the country, every direction was a wonderful assault on the senses. Exploration at the fringes of town had its reward of boutique and large scale vineyards, bushwalking hikes and scenic historic trails. If you have your doubts, “going rural” is definitely worth a shot, even if you’re not grasping for more, just the experience will make you appreciate what we take for granted here in the city.