New scholarship helps keep doctors in Bundaberg Region

Rural Doctors Bundaberg
Prof Stuart Carney, Shaiba Chatterjee and Bundaberg Region Mayor Jack Dempsey at the UQ Rural Clinical School Bundaberg Open House.

The University of Queensland has announced a new scholarship intended to train and keep future doctors in Bundaberg.

Mayor Jack Dempsey said it's a great initiative which will bolster the Bundaberg Region's medical workforce ahead of the new Bundaberg Hospital being constructed.

“Council has been advocating for increased medical services in Bundaberg and this is a fantastic building block to forge a positive future,” he said.

The scholarship was announced Wednesday night at the Bundaberg Rural Clinical School’s Open House event, where the doors of its medical school opened to the public for the first time.

Dr Denise Powell said the scholarship was part of the university’s commitment to train and keep doctors in rural areas.

“A placement in Bundaberg provides a rich learning experience for those eager to immerse themselves in the regional health-care system,” Dr Powell said.

“We want these future doctors to build strong roots in the community and to keep their skills local.”

“There is an element of readjustment to rural life for these students. Many are living away from home for the first time and experience unintended living costs.

“These can be real barriers to education for students who would like to continue their training in Bundaberg, but might not be financially equipped to do so.”

The scholarship endowment will help students overcome these barriers and improve access to medical care for rural and remote residents by increasing the number of practitioners in the region.

Guests at the Open House event were taken inside the Rural Clinical School’s classrooms where they could appreciate the diverse talents of its student cohort and the world-class training facilities available to them.

“Many locals are unaware that we have a medical school right here in Bundaberg,” Dr Powell said.

“Last night was about showcasing the Medical Program to the public so they could see our state-of-the-art facilities and hear from the students themselves.

“Their time here in Bundaberg offers a unique perspective to their learning and cultivates skills that will shape their practice of medicine in years to come.”

UQ’s Rural Clinical Schools in Rockhampton, Bundaberg, Hervey Bay, and Toowoomba train third and fourth-year medical students on placement from Brisbane.

Students have access to a suite of training facilities and simulation centres that mimic a real hospital ward.

Dr Powell said it allowed students to engage in a learning environment that replicated the challenges of real clinical practice.

“These students are at the end of their medical degree and are looking to develop their teaching and learning in a practical sense,” Dr Powell said.

“The simulation labs assist students in performing different scenarios and managing complex cases under the direction of lead educators.”

Facility a place for building skills

Workshops in suturing, plaster castings for broken bones and treating anaphylaxis from life-threatening allergies are some of the skills taught to students.

Theory quickly extends beyond the classroom and into practice on the wards of Bundaberg hospitals and general practice clinics.

“We work closely with Wide Bay Hospital and Health Services, private hospitals and community placements to have students taking a hands-on approach to the treatment and management of patients,” Dr Powell said.

“Junior doctors now working in the hospital who also completed a placement at the School will often come back to teach students.

“These are the types of community connections we want to foster with the scholarship endowment fund.”