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Rural Clinical School students adapt to change

UQ Rural Clinical School
Cedric Luk is a fourth year medical student has undertaken his Year 3 and Year 4 placements in Bundaberg and is hoping to return next year for his internship

When Year 3 and 4 medical students at UQ Rural Clinical School Bundaberg started the year they knew it would be a big year of study, but hadn’t counted on a global pandemic.

However, they have adapted well and learnt even more than they would have otherwise, according to University of Queensland Rural Clinical School Head, Associate Professor Riitta Partanen.

“Our Year 4 students’ clinical placements have remained unchanged this year, apart from them having the opportunity to be part of the junior doctor workforce,” Associate Professor Partanen said.

“This has provided our final year students with invaluable learning opportunities, and supported local Health Services, during unprecedented times.”

Year 3 students have also adapted well to the situation.

“Due to mandatory social distancing restrictions, our Year 3 students have been learning through innovative online training and simulation exercises,” Associate Professor Partanen said.

“This includes some very clever interactive online resource development and blended learning models, particularly in simulated clinical and procedural skills.

“We do not expect any of our students will be disadvantaged in their academic or course progression as a result of current arrangements.”

Year 4 student Cedric Luk is very familiar with Bundaberg, having undertaken both his Year 3 and Year 4 placements at UQRCS Bundaberg and is hoping to preference Bundaberg Hospital for his internship next year. 

“Being on placement during this pandemic allowed me to see and be involved in additional training that are implemented,” Cedric said.  

“These included COVID-19 related simulations and training which I had the opportunity to observe and become involved in during my Emergency Medicine placement.  

“It was also interesting to see how things like meetings, ward rounds and hospital set ups changed at this time.

“All my supervisors have been very supportive in giving guidance and the supportive environment is one of the reasons I’m considering returning to work in Bundaberg Hospital after graduating.”

Year 4 student, Stephanie Ting, said it had been an interesting time.

“As a medical student watching the events unfold, I was concerned about the effect this would have on my clinical experience, skills and graduation at the end of the year.

“However the staff at UQ Rural Clinical School Bundaberg worked tirelessly for our benefit, and the generous Paediatrics team and Obstetrics and Gynaecology team went above and beyond, trying to provide us with the practical experience we needed in clinic, on the ward and even later in theatre and birth suite.

“All of this while ensuring patient safety, respecting the everchanging Queensland health and social distancing guidelines and juggling the increased workload that such a pandemic inevitably brings.

“The rural advantage has never been more evident and us students have never been more grateful for the kind effort that has made us feel like a part of the Bundaberg community. Thank you!”

Associate Professor Partanen said everyone was looking forward to resumption of normal studies.

“Planning is well underway for the efficient return to clinical placements in second semester which commences on 22 June.

“Most rural and regional placements will be available to our students, due to low COVID-19 infection rates in our communities, which is another valid reason why students should undertake their medical degree in a rural/remote community!”

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