It has taken a while for the Monash School of Rural Health (SRH) South Gippsland to settle into its new home but after six months, its presence is being felt.
Training our doctors of the future, the facility started life in one room at the old Leongatha Hospital in 2010 before relocated to the old Leongatha Primary School in rooms next to the gym.
In July this year, once the new hospital was completed, SRH staff moved into an existing facility on site. The pre-fab rooms, adjacent to the carpark, were used by the hospital’s Allied Health team before being taken over by Monash for the three SRH staff and year 4C medical students.
Leading the team is Foster GP David Iser who supervises the cluster. He is supported by clinical administrator Marlene Archbold and academic coordinator Jennie Casey.
The Monash SRH offers medical students the opportunity to train and work in Gippsland. It has regional sites in South Gippsland as well as Warragul, Churchill, Traralgon, Sale and Bairnsdale. In fact its footprint extends throughout regional Victoria with students forming part of a rapidly growing multi-site school within the Monash Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.
“A number of our students have returned to work in various roles in our region,” Dr Iser said. “They become fine young doctors, a tribute to all those people who help train them.”
The South Gippsland cohort comprises 10 Year 4C students each year. Year 5 students also do rotations in core emergency medicine and surgery at both Leongatha and Wonthaggi Hospitals.
The Year 4C curriculum consists of four disciplines –women’s health, children’s health, Medicine of the Mind and general practice. South Gippsland runs an integrated program, covering all areas throughout the year.
Two students each are based Foster, Leongatha Health, Korumburra and Wonthaggi Medical Group at South Gippsland Family Medicine in Wonthaggi. Experience in women’s health is largely gained at local hospitals, with the four Wonthaggi-based students attending Bass Coast regional Health Wonthaggi. , the four Leongatha/Korumburra students are attached to Gippsland Southern Health service Leongatha , with the two Foster students at South Gippsland Hospital, Foster.
All students spend time at West Gippsland Hospital, Warragul to gain experience in paediatrics while ‘Medicine of the Mind’ is studied at Korumburra and Wonthaggi community mental health services as well as Latrobe Regional Hospital’s Flynn Ward.
According to Ms Archbold, a retired educator from Leongatha, the new facility meets all their needs. “We have a designated tutorial room for students to attend lectures,” she said. “There is also a clinical room, much needed storage, three offices, a kitchen and toilet facilities.”
Ms Casey is an experienced academic who has worked at both Warragul and Sale sites. Also a local resident, she relished the opportunity to be based at the new site.
Lectures are delivered by both specialists and GPs as well as a range of community health workers, depending on the lecture focus.
The South Gippsland school also hosts an annual women’s health forum and other special events for students.
Dr Iser sees a “huge benefit” in Monash University providing opportunities for medical students to study and train in regional areas.
“Many of these students don’t want to spend the length of their course in a major “city,” he explained.
“The school is committed to improving rural health and developing a sustainable rural health workforce by delivering excellence in education, research and research training.
“We can see this is making a difference.”