auricle June 2013
Fiji Village Project Making a difference in the South Pacific
National Leadership Development Seminar An experience of a lifetime
Medsoc mole returns with the latest from the grapevine
First years go rural Could you live on less than $2 a day?
MedSoc calendar events you donâ€™t want to miss!
Welcome to the second edition of The Auricle for 2013! So much has happened since the first edition of The Auricle, the year is just flying by. I hope all our newest members in first year have settled in well, especially those from interstate who will be preparing for their first Canberra winter. At the other end of the spectrum our final year students will be furiously preparing for (hopefully) one of their last ever assessments at the ANU Medical School. Good luck to everyone with study and exam preparation, don’t forget to take some time out to relax every once in a while. Things are still non-stop at MedSoc Headquarters this time of year. At the time of writing we are engaging in discussions with ACT Health and the ACT Government over the recently released internship priorities for 2014. Feel free to get in touch with your MedSoc representatives for more information. Not to mention we are planning the biggest academic and social events for the year in the Medical Symposium and Winter Formal. I hope we saw you all at the Symposium, and thank you to our wonderful panel of speakers. Don’t forget to vote for your favourite Winter Formal theme on the new ANUMSS website forums! In this article you’ll find wrap-ups of our successful events just passed, including the MedSoc Mixer, When I Grow Up and the first round of the Interyear Cup (will anyone catch the flying firsties?). Of course, one of the highlights of every year’s calendar is the MedRevue, proudly presented by ANUMSS and ANU MedRevue. This year’s Paramedical Activity was a smash-hit (if I do say so myself...) and raised yet another record amount for The Canberra Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. A massive “congratulations” must go to everyone who was involved in creating such a spectacle, and thank you to everyone who attended. Until next time, I hope to see you all at a MedSoc event soon.
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Justin Rheese President - Australian National University Medical Students’ Society
Don’t miss these fantastic events put on for you by MedSoc and our sub-committees
AMSA Convention, Gold Coast. Will likely be the best week of your medical career - if you missed out this year don’t make the same mistake in 2014. GAI! Vampire Cup begins - roll up your sleeves and get donating ANUMSS Winter Formal - get your tickets from www.anumss.org for the biggest social event of the year
Interyear Cup - Round 3 - Basketball. Is anyone going to overtake those athletic and enthusiastic firsties?
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When I Grow Up #2 - Dr Sally Somi. More details coming soon! Interyear Cup SEMI FINALS - the battle is coming to an end...which year will reign supreme? ARMS Ski Trip
For more infomation on these events keep an eye on your ANU email and our Facebook group (ANU MedSoc) and Facebook page (Australian National University Medical Students’ Society).
A massive to all the contributors to this issue. I know everyone has been crazy busy with exams and life in general but your work is greatly appreciated by myself, MedSoc and the medical school community. Any suggestions or feedback are always welcome and if you would like to be involved in writing for the Auricle, email me at email@example.com.I hope you enjoy this issue! Cover photography: Rhys Cameron
Gemma Curry Editor
The 2013 Fiji Village Project saw 15 Australian and 15 New Zealand medical students travel to beautiful Fiji and team up with a host of students from the Fiji School of Medicine for what can only be described as an experience of a life time. Held between 4 – 20 January, the 6th annual delegation was warmly welcomed to the South Pacific Island with hospitality and generosity that was second to none. Each year students from the Fiji School of Medicine partner with local government and community members to identify under-serviced rural villages for the next years project. In 2013, the villages that welcomed the students included Delaitoga, Matailobau and Nabena in the Naitasiri Province of Eastern Fiji. Participants were divided into 3 working groups – health screening, water and children, and health promotion – and given the task of coordinating the activities for the upcoming two weeks. The health screening group coordinated both general health screening consisting of blood pressure, blood glucose, weight, height and dental checks, and women’s specific health screening of pap smears and breast examinations. The health promotion team had a wide range of topics to cover from communicable and non-communicable diseases through to family planning, contraception and lifestyle interventions which were delivered in group sessions, both English and Fijian. The water and children’s group was responsible for running several ‘kids days’ aimed at promoting healthy and balanced nutrition, improved sanitation and increasing activity levels. In addition, implementing improvements to water supply and quality was a critical objective of the project. This year a large focus of the project was on installing a water pump in Delaitoga and establishing a committee of local community members to be accountable for its operation. Its successful implementation enabled fresh running water for the first time in many years. The final day of the project was a joyous event marked by turning on the pump and celebrating something we in Australia take for granted every day. In addition to the village commitments, students were fortunate enough to be invited into the hospital for ward rounds, Oxfam clinic visits and nights in the labour ward. These were a very memorable experience (with several students witnessing their first births) but also a stark reminder of the lack of resources yet reliance of staff and patients. Details for the 2014 FVP are still being finalised however there are many opportunities throughout the year to get involved and support this fantastic international project! Elise Warren Year 2 Fiji for me was truly one of those awe-inspiring moments, when sometimes it’s not until after the trip, when you take a step back and reflect, that you realise what an experience it all was. The Fiji Village Project epitomised the altruistic nature of medical students from all around the world. It symbolised a willingness to create change and to provide the simple services for which most take for granted. Fiji itself is a lovely country, the people are so friendly and the backdrop of palm trees and beaches, mountain highlands and scattered villages complete the picture. One of the first things you notice is the intense humidity. I remember one day in the highlands where it was 40+ degrees, 95% humidity and we were in a tin room for most of the day, that was an experience. One of my favourite experiences was a rainforest trek to see the dam for the village. There was typical tropical rain and undisturbed terrain and to top it all off, I was able to jump from a tree into a river. As for the Project itself, I couldn’t speak more highly of the Fijian students who were part of the project. They were amazing, talented (you should see them sing and dance) and incredibly welcoming. With 4 main aims: health promotion, health screening, water education and children’s education, I feel we made a positive influence on the villages we visited. If not anything else, I feel our presence alone created a health awareness message to them. We were lucky enough to have some additional hospital rotations organised for us this year such as ward rounds (learning of the many tropical diseases), O&G (observing births as well as c-sections) and learning how to perform pap smears. I feel privileged to have been able to participate in such a project. To have been able to meet and work with such amazing and like-minded students from different nations and to visit such isolated villages in such a beautiful country was an unforgettable experience. Haoming Zhuo Year 2
For me the experience was summed up perfectly on the last day of the project when the women of the village stood under the shower in the village centre, which for the first time in a long time had running water pouring out. As they splashed each other and laughed in the back drop of what one can imagine to be was a picturesque sunny Fijian day, it would have been near impossible to not recognise we were witnessing something special. The work we were doing as relatively inexperienced medical students was adequately challenging whilst being appropriately supervised. The challenge was much more easily met given the welcoming nature of the Fijians in the villages. For some of the villagers there was a significant language barrier, yet this did not deter them from turning up to the village hall each time we visited with smiles on their faces and a look of intent interest. Beyond this they welcomed us in to their homes for meals and allowed us to join them in their ceremonial festivities. The success of the project is no doubt enhanced by the close association with the students and staff of the Fiji School of Medicine, allowing for us to enter into the villages respectfully. Whilst the intention for the project was to share our knowledge on health and sanitation we too were learning every day. Lessons in culture, history and population health weaved there way through our two week experience. The lessons in humility, generosity and an unfailing ability to see the best in everyone and everything are the ones I hope will remain with us all. My involvement was centered on health education where we presented on both communicable and non-communicable diseases affecting Fijians. The success of these presentations was made clear when the villagers would show up in the following days for the screening that we had advocated for. Throughout the presentations many of them asked questions, often leading to a more interactive two way discussion, indicating to me that we were addressing things of concern and of interest and thus hopefully conveying messages that would have some longevity. Fiji is not far from home and whilst we have a lot of work to do back here in Australia, this project gives an opportunity to continue to contribute to the health and wellbeing of our South Pacific Island neighbours. Beyond that it gives to us a wonderful opportunity to gain perspective as individuals and as training health professionals. Population health out of a textbook cannot compete with the reality that we were privileged enough to witness throughout our project. I strongly encourage anyone who has the opportunity to become involved in the Fiji Village Project to do so. For those wishing to offer support in ways other than attending the project may I assure you that FVP is continuing to make a genuine difference to the lives of those who it touches. Holly Powell Year 2
The opportunity to be part of The Fiji Village Project in 2013, has unquestionably been one of my most inspiring, educational and privileged experiences. The Project, which has run for six years, brings together medical, nursing and dentistry students from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji – all with the common objective to bring health empowerment to rural Fijian communities. As a medical student, it was humbling to be able to contribute to health initiatives through not only health screening and health awareness, but also to be exposed to a wider meaning of well-being. In other words, understanding the role that society, culture and community play in health and well-being. The relationships between the students and the local communities were warmly strengthened, which was made easy by the sincerity and friendliness that was extended to us by the locals. Developing a rapport and connection with the locals was an extremely rewarding experience, and an insight into the privileged relationship that doctors have with their patients. The Project also brought together life-long friendships between the students from Australia, New Zealand and Fiji, further strengthening a global medical network that I hope will continue to work together towards continually bettering global health outcomes. Sunita Biswas-Legrand Year 2
Fiji Village Five
The inaugural Fiji Village Project (FVP) fund-raising and awareness event for 2013, took place on April 13th. 70 keen participants joined in for the “Fiji Village Five” – a5km walk across the Australian National University (ANU) campus. The walk marked the first of a series of events aimed at raising funds for the 2014 project. Walkers were treated to perfect autumn weather for the event which was followed by a BBQ, refreshments and a presentation on the project. The event was well attended by ANU medical students, friends, lecturers, medical practitioners, volunteers of the medical school and our friends from Pasifika Australia. The day was a great success, with positive feedback from many participants who enjoyed the walk and presentation. It was a wonderful opportunity to share the history and vision of FVP. A further fundraising effort in the way of the annual FVP trivia night is tentatively planned for August, stay tuned for confirmed details!
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The Annual ANUMSS Medical Symposium is considered the flagship event in the academic calendar, consistently attracting prominent speakers to engage in a lively mix of panel discussion and open forum with the student cohort. The 2013 Medical Symposium stayed true to this trend as some of ACT’s most prominent physicians and surgeons formed the expert panel chaired by Prof Frank Bowden to discuss this year’s topic: End of Life Issues in Medical Practice. The panellist ranged from all walks of the medical profession, each providing an unique insight into the role of the doctor in addressing end of life issues. Representing the acute care setting; Intensivist, Dr Simon Roberson; Emergency Physician, Dr Gary Wilkes and; Trauma Surgeon, Dr Aileen Fitzgerald, who spoke from their experience in the unique role as the providers of aggressive, resuscitative and life-sustaining care. Their points were well contrasted by the insight of Palliative Care Specialist, Dr Denis Pacl who stressed the crucial role of the doctor in providing health care to patients for whom curative treatment was no longer available and enforced the importance of developing this aspect of our training as young clinicians. Geriatrician, Dr Sabari Saha and Neonatologist, Dr Hazel Carlisle also provided juxtaposing views of dealing with end of life care as they spoke about the challenging aspect the death of a patient at both extremes of life. Charismatically driven by Professor Bowden, the lively and robust debate about end-of-life care amongst the clinicians addressed topics ranging from the ‘heroic doctor’ perpetuated in the media, to idea of ‘going too far’ in attempts to extend life. Ultimately while each panellist had their own approaches to dealing with end-of-life issues, all seemed galvanised by the principle of striving to allow each patient the experience of a subjectively ‘good death’, as well as the acceptance by the doctor that this ‘good death’ may lie at ends with their personal beliefs or discourse as an instinctive care-giver. All-in-all, the symposium, was an entertaining and enlightening evening with plenty of enthusiastic participation from the packed auditorium. The ANUMSS would like to extend special thanks to all those who were in attendance and especially the physicians and surgeons who gave up their valuable time to share their thoughts on this essential element of medical training. We hope to see you all again next year for the 2014 ANUMSS Medical Symposium. Josh Tobin ANUMSS Vice President
The 2013 ANU Med Revue, Para-medical Activity, was a resounding success. Selling out its last two nights at the ANU Arts Centre, the ticket sales helped raise $6,500 for the Canberra Hospital Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. This year’s performance introduced us to the world of Dr Smooth, a graduating 4th year medical student who managed to achieve the only interstate intern position, but has stopped caring about the important things in life: his friends, his patients, and SFM.Guided by three ghosts, they delved into Smooth’s promising past, his unfortunate present and bleak future, and finally his repentance, tackling issues many of us can relate to - the excitement, the break-ups, the hours of study, the PAL. All the while entertaining us with intricate dance numbers and the most cringe-worthy of medical puns, with video cameos from more than a few well-known ANU and TCH staff members. The catchy song parodies left everyone wanting more - from Craig David to Andrew Lloyd Webber, from Santana to Jay-Z, and every genre in between. Some have even said it was the best Med Revue in ANUMS’s short history. High praise indeed - let’s see if next year’s group can be even better. Alex Misev Producer - MedRevue 2013
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National Leadership Development Seminar
What is leadership? What makes a good leader? How do you overcome adversity to succeed? Why is gender such a big issue with respect to leadership roles and why does it feature in our parliamentary debates? These were questions I asked myself when I decided to apply for NLDS 2013 – yet I had no idea what was in stall.
At the end of May, more than 100 medical students from around Australia descended on Canberra for three days of leadership development. After quickly settling into our accommodation at the Medina apartments, we were rushed off to partake in a session of laughing yoga, the first of many social events that surrounded the main conference, which broke the ice for NLDS 2013.
The conference itself open with an address from AMA Federal President Dr Steve Hambleton, reminding us all that failure is nothing to be ashamed of, but merely provides us the means to learn and develop as people, leaders and ultimately the doctors that we all strive to become and thus setting the scene for an intriguing and open minded three days. This attitude towards a holistic approach to personal development was continued by Medical Oncologist, columnist and author Dr Ranjana Srivastava, who emphasized the need for us to maintain aspects of our lives outside of medicine, such that we can attain more attributes to finish the sentence “I am a…” with more that just doctor or medical student. Words, which I believe some of us medical students, should keep in mind, to help maintain our sanity.
Throughout the three days, as expected, Canberra provided visits to many of the fine establishments of the parliamentary triangle culminating in courtside seats to what can only be described as an invigorating session of question time at parliament house.
Unfortunately the Hon Mr Bob Katter was unable to attend, robbing me the opportunity to get a photo with the “hat”. However, the politicians who were able to address us afforded many diverse and somewhat liberating opinions, the leader of the Australian Sex Party,
“...NLDS has been one of the most amazing experiences I have had since embarking on my medical career...”
Fiona Patten provided quite the thrill. The internationally renowned and controversial euthanasia activist Dr Philip Nitschke was a definite personal favourite, broadening the understanding of the death machine and its contribution to euthanasia. The founding director of the Griffith Islamic research Unit A/Prof Mohamed Abdallah spoke avidly about the importance of breaking down misconceptions and stereotypes. Chief scientist of Australia Prof Ian Chubb, ‘Dr feel good’ aka Dr Sally Cockburn and the face and advocate of the ‘Don’t Rush’ campaign and AMA NSW president A/Prof Brian Owler also spoke with words that resonated and reflected on the tough decisions that we as future doctors will need to make. The never-ending feast provided by Mecca Bar, and an evening of cocktails at the National Press Club whilst Tony Abbott dined upstairs granted a fantastic end to an extraordinary few days. However, the heated and outrageous delegate debate about health care rationing and generalists vs specialists and dining on the steps of Old Parliament House proved to be incredibly memorable.
Without a doubt, NLDS has been one of the most amazing experiences I have had since embarking on my medical career. The opportunity to converse with so many exceptionally driven and motivated students from across Australian medical schools in the one place at the one time was a definite highlight, maybe even more so than the illustrious speakers. Medicine after all is rapidly growing industry and the development of connections can most certainly prove vital in the future. For these reasons, I cannot recommend this seminar more and encourage you to explore as many opportunities to broaden your learning as you continue your path towards becoming a doctor. With that I leave with the words of US president Barack Obama. “Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.” Alex Brown Year 2
ging Life chan
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cademic and dvocacy
The Academic and Advocacy Team have been busy over summer and the first semester building on the work of our predecessors, representing the student views at Phase, Assessment and Curriculum Committee meetings, assisting with extra study sessions for students sitting supplementary exams and developing a new policy for our team.
I am your Academic and Advocacy Officer, Kerrie Aust. I am a Canberra local and did my undergraduate degrees at ANU and Uni of Canberra, with a long stint of auditing and fraud investigation in the middle. I am mother of two great kids who keep life at a fairly hectic pace. I am a beginner mountain biker and thanks to taking advice from those more experienced than me, I am usually covered in bruises and gravel rash. Having lived in Canberra for most of my adult life I can point you in the direction of great music venues, good coffee or where to take your parents for dinner. This year my focus is on giving students a voice at the assessment and curriculum committee meetings and improving communication between the med school and the student body. Seren is our newest member of the team, as Academic Rep for first year. She is another Canberra local and BSc here at the ANU. Aside from medicine, she plays netball, bakes, disappears for camping and bush walking weekends – loving to travel off the beaten path. Her travels in Ghana, Ecuador and Borneo sparked a passion for health care and health education across the world. “As 1st year Academic Representative, I hope to ensure a clear line of communication between students (our year and later years), lecturers and staff - to help students express their concerns and ideas in a constructive way and also to help the students to understand the staff’s perspective and reasoning. Additionally, I would like to help establish a positive, cohesive network among our year levels, so that knowledge and experiences are shared and everyone feels supported and enthusiastic about their learning” Our Second year Academic Rep Bonnie comes from Melbourne. In contrast to Melbourne Uni, she really likes the smaller size of ANU Medical School. She is finding that being Academic Rep is a great way to work with a range of awesome people and contribute to the student community. When she is not being Academic, she is trying to find Canberra’s good coffee, playing squash (badly) or watching movies she should have seen years ago but somehow managed to miss. If you haven’t met our third year rep, Phil (aka Hingerz) you really need to drop over to TCH and say hi. Another Canberra local, he enjoys complaining about many things in life, medical school being near or at the top of this list, and thought he should put this past time to better use. Working with the academic team he hopes to continue to improve the experience and learning of ANU medical students, and specifically address any academic concerns. Outside med he spends a fair bit of time working as a ‘casual radiographer’ on a part-time/casual basis. He is fortunate enough to have family here in Canberra, so spends a bit of time ‘putting up’ with them and enduring his old man’s endless projects. He tries to get time for a bit of tennis, cycling and golf, although these activities are usually trumped by ‘roof drinking’ when the time allows. Skiing in winter is always a bit of fun. He has also had the opportunity to travel to PNG and Burma to do some pseudo-electives, which was fantastic. His current dream is to design and build a steam engine. He doesn’t agree with time machines as he believes they remove the concept of gratitude and he can’t understand why traffic lights sometimes revert to flashing orange allowing a free-for-all in the intersection. Our fourth year rep, Mitch wasn’t available for interview. However a cyber-stalk of his facebook page revealed that is from Tasmania, he enjoys snowboarding when he is not studying medicine and is going to have a lot on his plate organising graduation ball this year. If you have any thoughts regarding med or how to improve it come say g’day to anyone on our team. (Hingerz would also welcome any thoughts on steam engines, time machines and traffic lights). Kerrie Aust Academic and Advocacy Officer, ANUMSS firstname.lastname@example.org
G’day Rangers, It’s all happening in the AMSA department. In July, 31 brave ANUMSS rangers are primed to descend (in record numbers) on the Gold Coast for the 2013 AMSA Convention. Also coming up is the year’s second AMSA council, at which we’ll elect the executive team for 2014, along with robust discussion surrounding a number of issues facing medical students. Mid-July also marks the beginning of the Blood Drive for 2013. No doubt you’re all getting ready to literally bleed for the cause (the cause being saving lives, and arguably more importantly, national glory). Keep an eye out for when and where you can donate! Sam Harkin AMSA Representative
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...the latest goss from the ARMS grapevine
Since the last version of the Auricle, there have been changes aplenty at ARMS. The Committee for 2013 has been elected and the new president, Bec Irwin, has cracked the whip and started planning for the next suite of rural activities and field trips. The Close The Gap Day on Saturday 27th April was well attended by students from the ANU and a number of other regional health clubs. It was a great opportunity for everyone to learn about Aboriginal culture and the inequalities that exist in Indigenous Health.The annual Bushdance, at the Yarralumla Woolshed, followed the Close The Gap Day. It was good to see that everyone donned their best flanno’s and jeans and got into the spirit of the night, although there may have been more than a few sore heads the next morning.
In addition to the social calendar the ARMS team has been busy getting out and conducting rural heath activities and men’s health pitstops. On Wednesday 22nd May a group of first year students got to taste the awesome catering at Cootamundra when they helped conduct a Men’s Pitstop during the Cootamundra Sheep Sales. In addition to some valuable practice in vital signs and patient communication, we all had a valuable opportunity to learn about rural life from the farmers, stockagents, and, most importantly, ladies running the canteen! All in all about 40 men went through the pitstop, most of whom were keen to encourage us to come back once we were fully qualified! Some entries for your social diary:If you like skiing, snow boarding, or you just happen to be from somewhere where it never gets below 10 degrees and so haven’t had the chance to experience the snow, the Annual ARMS Ski Trip is planned for SATURDAY 31 August. ARMS will charter a bus and the price of tickets will include lift passes, ski/board and clothing hire. It is a great chance to hang out with everyone, meet folks in other years, laugh at the physically inept, enjoy a (very) cold bevvie or two and relax before the slog up to the end of year. More details to follow in the next couple of weeks.The other major activity for the second half of the year is the Academic Speaker Night, planned for Friday 13 September. Come along and hear from four rural medical practitioners speak about their lives, vocation and the unique experiences that arise from rural practice. The night will also include a buffet dinner and pre-dinner nibblies.Again, more details, including the speakers, to follow on the facebook page. Marc Heggart Year 1 - ARMS Social Rep
Initial thoughts on living below the $2 world poverty line for 5 days? Even with Purple Pickle privileges, that won’t even buy a coffee. Nevertheless, Andrew, Matt, Rhys and I accepted the challenge and set out with bright-eyed determination to find the best bargains Canberra had to offer. Prices were compared, dilemmas arose (to banana or not to banana?), previously unknown skills in haggling for pears were unveiled and sacrifices had to be made (how much nutritional value can an onion really have?!). After receiving more than a few odd glances from passing shoppers when excitement at a 1kg bag of frozen veggies for $1.59 translated into an audible ‘Whoop!’, it was time to head home– 5 days worth of food? $9.96. The menu for the week was variations on the theme of tasteless, questionably nutritional and oh so monotonous. Watery porridge had us feeling like orphaned Oliver only this time begging ‘No sir, I don’t want more!’. Salt-less pasta; frozen multi-coloured squares identifiable only by the label of ‘vegetables’ on the packet; treat of the week: baked beans and eggs! And repeat. It quickly became apparent how many food related luxuries we take for granted that people living in poverty are denied. That sugar boost to help you wade through late night biochem study, that caffeine hit to keep you from waking to find you’ve not only missed the whole histology lecture but you’ve been Snapchatted doing so. As the days wore on, temptations metastasised. PBL day brought on a novel challenge to focus on hypothyroidism and not on the smell of spicy cajun chicken pieces permeating the air. Pastries at free food functions seemed to have a gravitational pull. Dumpsters suddenly became disturbingly appealing and one of the LBTLers was sorely tempted by a discarded ham wrap splayed across the sidewalk.
LIVE BELOW THE LINE
“...it quickly became apparent how many food related luxuries we take for granted” Yet all of this was absolutely and irrevocably worth it as the donations came rolling in, with overwhelming support from our med cohort. Together after 122 donations we raised $3,789 – that’s enough for 6 training programs for teachers, 10 lots of children’s uniforms and learning material for 3 years, 13 bicycles for kids to get to school, 11 scholarships for 6 months of education and board payment for another 12 children in Papua New Guinea and Cambodia. A huge thankyou to everyone who supported us, put up with bouts of hanger and donated so generously despite being, on the whole, poor med students. And at the end of it all, a celebratory breakfast at Tilley’s after those 5 days never tasted so good! Nicole Casalis Year 1 medical student
After months of introductory clinical lectures and little clinical exposure, a group of first year students had the privilege of participating in the ANU medical school’s Laughter Doctors program. This was a great opportunity for us to experience the wards and to treat patients with the only medicine we are qualified to administer at this stage, and that is humour. Following a couple of training sessions involving a professional clown teaching us the tricks of the trade, we split into small groups and came up with routines suitable for the children’s ward at The Canberra Hospital. Under the disguise of Dr. Sparkles and Dr. Giggles, my partner and I learned to juggle – some better than others - and came up with what we thought were some witty jokes, while attempting to reproduce some disappearing acts that we found on youtube. On the day we were assigned to a young boy who had been in hospital for weeks waiting for an operation, and was being visited by his other young siblings and parents at the time. After all our planning for the routine, we learnt things don’t always go according to plan. Our card trick didn’t work, we kept dropping the balls as we juggled, and they didn’t understand our jokes. But in the end this turned out better than the original plan! The children loved the costumes and the novelty of the experience, but the most unexpected outcome was how appreciative the parents were. They were eager to show their appreciation and it was great to give them a more lighthearted experience of the hospital. All in all, it was a beneficial experience for everyone, the families were left with a smile on their face and we came out with a better appreciation of the importance of bonding with patients and realizing that treatment of patients is multifaceted. We would like to thank Alex Brown and Tom Cheng for organizing this for us, and we look forward to going back for round two after a few more training sessions. Mara Matic and Natasha Singh Year 1
First years get a taste of rural life
Exhausted from our formative exams, we hopped on the bus to Bega excited and not knowing what to expect from rural week. Upon our arrival after a 3 hour bus trip, we were greeted by the staff and doctors at Bega Hospital. Our stay was immediately made welcome by the lunch provided by the Medicare Local Southern NSW – it was such a welcome treat after our exams and long bus ride! This started off one of the best weeks we have had, being spoilt by everyone in Bega and being treated like long lost family. There are so many memorable experiences to share but to me one of the best times were the nights spent on Tathra beach with each other staring into the fluorescent algae eerily glowing blue in the crashing waves and really bonding as a group. Other highlights were the dinner held for us by the Rotary Club, community placements, an amazing silver service dinner served the catering students at Bega TAFE and having dinner with one of the host families who were willing to feed us. Uncertain of why we deserved such superb hospitality during the week but grateful for every moment of it, we also learnt a great deal about rural medicine. Memorable talks were given by Drs Andrew Collins, Mark Oakley, Sam Tormey, Belinda Allan and many others. We were given the opportunity to observe various rural health care practices. We were taught how to perform abdominal examinations and we were able to take part in the community blood pressure drive. It was an honour for us to be able to take BPs for the community members who normally would not have their BPs checked nor visited a doctor! The experience was invaluable to our training and experience as future doctors. The quality of the time we spent at Bega can be summed up by the amount of people who want to work there in the future – and with all honesty, everyone who went to Bega are “itching” to go back either in Third year or permanently work there! On behalf of the cohort of Year 1 ANU students who spent the better part of a week in Bega, we are truly grateful to everyone involved in rural week 2013 for the wonderful experience. Brian Chan Year 1
Thirty-one ANU med students hopped on a bus one brusque morning in March and set sail down the Monaro Hwy bound for a “rural experience”. We felt like a motley crew of mostly city folks, idealistic and wide-eyed at the start of our medical training, still quite green in many respects. We approached with an open mind and it soon became apparent that as we climbed onto the Monaro Plains we were about to discover a wonderful and unique piece of rural Australia. The combined forces of a small, united and motivated community with a pioneering and liberated spirit is a recipe for progress. It is fitting that Cooma lies somewhere between Australia’s two biggest cities, within proximity of the capital and analogous to its geographic altitude, the town is transcendent in cultural acceptance and technology embrace reflected in the Snowy Hydro Scheme. We became aware that the medical professionals operating in Cooma were committed to the welfare of the local people and had an understanding of the medical imperatives in rural Australia. As a group of newly admitted medical students, we were inspired by the careers of the local doctors and health care workers.
The beers hit the spot at the bowls club, we experienced the sublime landscape on Kosciuszko, were given the chance to meet, be entertained and educated by locals, marveled at the engineering miracles of the Snowy Hydro and were impressed with the skills and dedication of the emergency response teams. It was humbling to experience the warm hospitality at every stop. The Cooma experience certainly left an impression. For many students, while watching a lovely Cooma sunset, the ambition to work in a rural setting crystallized into a plan to return to the country when the hard yards are done in the med school. Phillip Whiley Year 1
Not being a big country person I was unsure what to expect from our first Rural Week however after six weeks of being blasted with what seemed like an insurmountable amount of information, a week in the country sounded like a nice reprieve. After our unsupervised bus trip an hour or so down the road we were welcomed with a quick tour of the Goulburn War Memorial before being whisked off to our farm accommodation. Needless to say some of us were a bit out of sorts crammed into our accommodation worse than backpackers in an Eastern European hostel but despite the supply of hot water and rooms shared with a variety vermin we headed off to our first of many enjoyable evening functions. The official ‘work’ kicked off the next day with a tour of the Goulburn Base Hospital and familiarisation with the Rural program in Goulburn. This was followed up by a suturing and plastering session which many enjoyed as our first real Dr-like hands-on activities. For dinner that evening we were lucky enough to rub shoulders with some of Goulburn’s finest (including the Mayor). Everyone seized the opportunity to chat to the locals about community life in Goulburn as well as enjoy some of the fine cuisine that would make even Matt Preston roll his eyes in an orgasm of culinary delight. The third day in Goulburn was the highlight as half of us kicked off the morning spending some one-on-one time with local Allied Health staff across various disciplines. The other half spent the morning at the Goulburn Mall conducting blood pressure screening for the local residents. That afternoon we converged on the Goulburn High Security Prison Facility, home to some of Australia’s most hardened criminals. This itself was an incredible experience as we got to examine first hand the living conditions for the residents and discuss prison and health issues with the wardens. Although incredibly eye-opening it was also incredibly intimidating; A hefty serving of ogling and whooping from the inmates left many of the lads feeling as though they hadn’t dressed conservatively enough for the visit. That evening we were welcomed into the homes of various community members and provided with enough food, wine and good will to fill a lifetime. We wrapped up our last day with more blood pressure screening and health practitioner visits before enjoying one last deliciously free lunch and boarding the bus for our return trip to the comparative thriving metropolis of Canberra. Overall the week spent in Goulburn was an extraordinary experience and has certainly given many of us a good reason to think about returning to these communities once we’re qualified. A big thanks to the ARMS, Goulburn Allied Health Staff and all the members of the community that made our stay so remarkable. It was truly a week to remember. Liam Stone Year 1