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ALUMNI December 2012

In this Issue:


Cover photo: New medical graduate Teena Downton embarks on a rural health career. Photo was taken while Teena completed a student placement at Broken Hill with a visit to Tibooburra through the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

the future of rural health

• NRHSN Alumni Steering committee • RHWA CEO Greg Sam • Alumni – Where are they now? • NURHC 2012 highlights • Graduates embark on rural health careers

Alumni Action December 2012

NURHC inspires NRHSN Alumni It was wonderful to catch up face-to-face at NURHC, indeed it was the first time the steering committee and Rural Health Workforce Australia staff had met face to face since the inception of this Alumni program. This also gave us an opportunity to speak with some of you, and some soonto-be alumni interested in increasing their involvement with the program. We are keen to continue to harness the amazing energy from our NRHSN members and to ensure we don’t lose that desire to work remote and rural once our studies have finished. To that end, we have held meetings recently with RHWA staff about the direction of the program, and as always we are really keen to hear from interested members with their ideas for the Alumni program, and with stories from rural Australia. Of course roadblocks arise but how can we continue to get out rural and to tackle those roadblocks rather than let them dissuade us? What has worked for you, or what has

Jasmine Banner is a Resident Medical Officer at Royal Darwin Hospital. precluded you from going remote? In other news, we say a big thank you to Dan Mahony for his hard work and dedication to the Alumni Steering Committee over the last two years. Dan is stepping away from the committee due to other commitments, but remains a fantastic

Emily Dalton is a graduate nurse at Royal Brisbane Women’s Hospital. Alumni member and leader in rural health as a physiotherapist in Katanning, WA. Until next time, have a safe and happy holiday period and keep in touch. Jasmine and Emily, NRHSN Alumni Steering Committee. E:

Graduates embark on rural health career Catherine Ryan (pictured below) has accepted a role at Mt Isa, Queensland, following the completion of her nursing studies. Catherine was president of Outlook Rural Health Club and an active member of the network. Her roles included NRHSN Secretary in 2011 and NRHSN Nursing and Midwifery representative in 2012. Take note of Catherine’s summary of the Nursing and Midwifery portfolio achievements during 2012 in the feature Reach Out (page 7).

Teena Downton (front row, second from left) with National Rural Health Alliance Council at Parliament House, Canberra. Photo credit: Penny Bradfield/NRHA. Teena Downton (pictured on front cover) is part of a new crop of talented health students ready to embark on a rural health career, following the completion of their studies in 2012. Approximately 1,400 members of the National Rural Health Students’ Network are expected the join the workforce in 2013 after graduating from their health degrees. Teena completed a medical degree at University of Wollongong, has been an active member of SHARP Rural Health 2

Club and the broader network. She has held the positions of 2012 NRHSN Senior Community and Advocacy Portfolio representative and was the National Rural Health Alliance representative. Teena had the opportunity to visit Parliament House in Canberra in September for NRHA’s Councilfest. Teena will begin an internship in rural NSW during January at Tamworth Rural Referral Hospital.

Catherine Ryan at the Mount Isa Centre for Rural and Remote Health, Queensland.

Matching skills to community need

Inside Alumni Action Graduates embark on rural careers 2 Alumni – Where are they now? 4-5 NURHC 2012 snapshop 6 John Flynn Placement Program 7 Alumni Action is published by Rural Health Workforce Australia. E: Ph: 03 9860 4700 Suite 2, Lvl 5, 10 Queens Rd, Melb VIC 3004

rural health workforce

The importance of the future health workforce is at the forefront of many minds in Canberra at the moment. A number of weighty reports and parliamentary reviews this year have highlighted the need to establish clear, well-supported pathways for people embarking on careers in medicine, nursing and allied health. The aim, of course, is to ensure that health professionals are guided to work in areas where they can best meet community demand. This is particularly relevant for rural and remote Australia, where rates of chronic disease and premature death tend to be higher than urban areas. One of the reasons for such outcomes is a lack of access to health services. The current Federal Government Health Workforce Program’s Review, led by Jennifer Mason, is exploring the effectiveness of efforts to increase, train, support and distribute the Australian health workforce. It follows the release of the Health Workforce 2025 report which identified potential shortfalls in Australia’s nursing and medical workforce unless action is taken now. The Federal Government is also

Rural Health Workforce Australia Greg Sam CEO RHWA. mindful of the recommendations made by the Senate inquiry into factors affecting the supply of health services and medical professionals in rural areas. The Senate report had an important focus on attracting students, valuing the role of multi-skilled GP proceduralists and supporting nursing and allied health professionals to work in the country. All of this activity is very relevant to you as recent graduates from university health courses. It means policy makers are looking at the best way to harness your skills for the benefit of the broader community. This will have flow-on benefits for career planning, pathways to practice and general support offered by organisations like our national network of Rural Workforce Agencies. As members of the NRHSN Alumni, you are connected to the rural family. And you can be assured that we are advocating on your behalf so that your rural career goals are matched by sensible policy.

Rural Workforce Agencies NSW Rural Doctors Network 02 4924 8000 Rural Workforce Agency Victoria 03 9349 7800 Health Workforce Queensland 07 3105 7800 Rural Doctors Workforce Agency (SA) 08 8234 8277 Rural Health West (WA) 08 6389 4500 NT Health Workforce 08 8982 1000 Health Recruitment Plus – Tasmania 03 6334 2355

2013 NRHSN Executive Katherine Humphreys (l-r), Dan Faux and Jillian Ferrell began in their new roles as the 2013 NRHSN Executive during November. This follows a full and successful year by their 2012 predecessors Simon Reid, James Roth and Benjamin Crough.


Alumni Action December 2012

Where are they now?

Dr Aaron Hollins, Queensland. Where are you from originally? My Dad was in the Army, so we moved around a lot growing up. A lot of this time was spent in rural areas (including Canungra, Point Lonsdale and Puckapunyal). I went to 7 schools across 2 countries and 2 states.

more training, aiming for a Fellowship with the Australian Faculty of Public Health Medicine working with the Queensland Aboriginal and Islander Health Council, still working from the Tablelands.

chance to travel to so many places – Lawn Hill Gorge in Queensland, Kakadu, Uluru and recently travelled around the Pilbara including Karijini National Park whilst doing a locum placement in Roebourne, WA.

What is the best thing about your town/ job? I love living up here – the climate, the people, the coffee (Mareeba grows some excellent coffee). I love working in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health – the job is rewarding and it is a privilege to listen to people’s stories. My family loves Mareeba, we have a great school and there are lots of opportunities.

What’s the one thing you want the world to know about you? I can juggle, I can pick my nose with my tongue, I am allowed to tell Dad jokes because I am a Dad.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing – what would you be doing? I am about to embark on a career in an area that has been a neglected dream of mine, public health. If I wasn’t a doctor, I reckon I would be a teacher.

Words of wisdom for others thinking about a rural health career? Take as many opportunities to go rural as you can. Get some mentors and support and use your support network. When you graduate, be prepared before going rural – nag your employer/hospital to get extra training before going rural. The most valuable piece of equipment a rural health professional has is the telephone.

Best rural experience? Wow – what a hard question to answer. I have had three children – two of whom were born in rural hospitals. I have had the

Where are you from originally? Emerald, Central Queensland Where did you study? Which Rural Health Club were you a member of? James Cook University (JCU) in Townsville. I was a member of the awesome Rural Health Club RHINO.

Where did you study? Which Rural Health Club were you a member of? I studied at University of Queensland, with the final two years of my degree at the North Queensland Clinical School in Townsville and Cairns. This was before the JCU medical school started. I was a member of TROHPIQ, but currently have links with RHINO.

Where are you now? North-West Tasmania, living in Devonport and currently working in Burnie. It is 45 minutes to travel to work which sounds a bit much when working rurally but it’s the most beautiful drive, double lane highway all the way. This is temporary until I rotate jobs again.

Where are you now? After graduation and intern year, I moved to Mt Isa and stayed there for 5 years. This included stints in Normanton, Doomadgee, Julia Creek, Richmond and Mornington Island. I now work on the beautiful Atherton Tablelands. I live in Mareeba, work in Atherton and in Ravenshoe. What do you do there? I work for James Cook University where I teach and undertake rural health research. I also work as a GP at two Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Services (one in Mareeba and one in Ravenshoe). Next year, I am going back to do some 4

The thing you don’t want the world to know? See above. My eyebrows move of their own accord, particularly when I am exaggerating.

What do you do there? I’m an Occupational Therapist, working in a rotational position – so far I’ve gained experience in the following areas of practice: Community, Medical, Surgical and Early Intervention Service for Orthopaedic Surgery.

Anna Gordon, Tasmania.

What is the best thing about your town/job? Where to start...I just love this place, the awesome people and sense of community, stunning landscapes and seascapes. There is fresh produce (strawberries, raspberries, cherries) and good cafes all along the coast. Summers are jam-

Where are you from originally? I have lived in a lot of different places but did most of my growing up in and around Deniliquin, NSW. Where are you now? I live in Darwin, NT.

Brad Winter, Northern Territory. Which Club were you a member of? I was a member of TROHPIQ as my own university (QUT) didn’t have a rural health club so the good folk from UQ’s TROHPIQ were kind enough to adopt me. I’m now an Alumni member of TROHPIQ and I keep up with the happenings of other clubs.

packed full of things to do and winters are when we hibernate and rejuvenate. I love Occupational Therapy because you have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. Sometimes doing the smallest of things can help empower people to help themselves. I get to meet inspirational people who make a big impact on my life. The variety is great. It’s difficult to get bored in this job. If you weren’t doing what you’re doing – what would you be doing? If I wasn’t an OT, I’d be doing something creative, maybe floristry. Luckily I get to be a bit creative in my job and also occasionally get to make things for a craft market stall in my spare time. Or I’d be travelling around Australia and the world. Best rural experience? Most of my life so far has been a great rural experience. Some stand out rural moments include attending the Laura Aboriginal Dance Festival with RHINO, going on a rural high school visit tour to Richmond, Hughenden and Charters Towers and getting to promote health careers to the next generation of potential health professionals, and going on a home

What do you do there? I am a Graduate Registered Nurse with the Royal Darwin Hospital working in the Emergency Department. I live with a couple of my oldest and best friends and have made plenty more since I have been here. I chase live music events (there are more than you’d think in Darwin), cycle around with my friends, go to markets and various happenings around town, write lots, read more and spend a healthy amount of time wandering the beach just down the road from home. What is the best thing about your town/ job? Town: I get to wear shorts and thongs all year round (albeit with the addition of an umbrella in the wet season) and in the Top Ends’ eternal summer heat, it’s always easy to find something relaxing to do. Job: I have the most supportive bunch of co-workers that I could ever hope for and have made amazing friends with some of

visit in the snow at Waratah. What’s the one thing you want the world to know about you? I want the world to know that being engaged in an occupation helps keep you healthy. This is why the world needs Occupational Therapists to help those who are occupationally deprived due to health conditions, environment and social circumstance. Also I think everyone should know about an awesome youth organisation called Rotaract which is aimed at all professions and helping on a local, national and international level. The thing you don’t want the world to know? I think I may be getting hooked on attending rural health conferences. Words of wisdom for others thinking about a rural health career? Go rural. It’s a great adventure. A rural health career isn’t just about your work. It allows you to have an awesome rural life. Immerse yourself in your community, get involved, try new things and find what makes you happy and connected outside of work.

my grad colleagues. I really couldn’t have had a better start to my nursing career as the one I have had here. If you weren’t doing what you’re doing – what would you be doing? I’d probably still be miserable in my old job as a bureaucrat in Canberra, wondering what I could possibly do to make life more exciting. Best rural placement experience? I was lucky enough to have my final nursing placement in Nhulunbuy, Arnhem Land, NT. I lived with the hospital staff in the quarters, worked the same shifts, made friends with them and even joined the hospital volleyball team. I learned more there than at most of my previous placements. Nothing could have prepared me more for my current job. After my experiences there, I would recommend anyone have a go at a rural placement if they can. Best NRHSN experience? I was part of one of last year’s Rural High School Visits teams across the Top End of the NT. Six students from various health disciplines travelled to a number of high schools to promote health careers to secondary students. My team and I had an endless amount of fun talking to students about different careers and it still makes me happy hearing of students who have gone on to study after high school because of our input. On top of that, our team became amazing friends as you can only do after one week of spending pretty much every moment with each other. Best RHC experience? I took part in a skills workshop with TROHPIQ up in Atherton, Queensland last year. We were flown up and took part in a number of health related skill sessions all focused on rural health, facilitated by various health professionals from the local area. I still refer back to those sessions and loved that I was able to participate in such a fun and useful extracurricular event while I was studying in Brisbane. Words of wisdom for others thinking about a rural career? If you’re thinking about it, find a way to try it out. You’ll never know until you get out there and do it. A rural health club is a great start. If you do manage to get out rural in your studies, utilise the resources there for you. When I went on my rural placement, I read “When the Cowpat Hits the Windmill”, published by NRHSN in conjunction with beyondblue, and learned a great deal from it. 5

Alumni Action December 2012

NURHC 2012—Connect, Engage, Inspire The NRHSN Alumni made its mark on NURHC (National University Rural Health Conference) 2012, held at Creswick, Victoria, during August. With a theme of ‘connect, engage and inspire,’ Alumni members Dan Mahony (Photo 1) and Emily Dalton acted as MC’s for the event and other Alumni members Michael O’Halloran (Photo 2) and Assoc Prof Brad Murphy (Photo 3) inspired health students as keynote speakers. Dr Jasmine Banner chaired a panel discussion ‘Where to from here’ made up of Dr Sue Page, Faye McMillan, Dan Mahony and Dr Ashraf Takla. NRHSN Life Membership was awarded to Dan Mahony, Shannon Nott and Amy Stephenson as recognition for their outstanding contribution to the NRHSN in leadership roles.




Mentors ‘adopt’ their John Flynn medical students Almost a decade after welcoming their first John Flynn student into their home and practice in Geraldton, five hours drive north of Perth, Dr Kim Pedlow and his wife Anne were flying across Australia to attend the student’s wedding in Cairns. The John Flynn Placement Program gives students a two-week placement each year over four consecutive years, usually in the same community. Anne Pedlow said that the experience with their first student, beginning in 2004, has since encouraged them to host and mentor four other students. “They are barely out of school when they first arrive,” Anne said. “But it doesn’t take long for them to become part of the family, the practice, and the community.” “Kim gives them a wide range of hands on practical experience, including 6

patient histories, ultrasound, suturing, obstetrics and paediatrics. From one year to the next you can see them grow in confidence personally and professionally.” Anne said that Kim insists the students stay in their family home so that they get a pretty good feel for how things work in the lives of rural doctors. “They have all fitted in very well. They’re part of whatever happens, including pulling craypots in the early morning, golfing and social events to call-outs with Kim to deliver babies in the middle of the night. They also spend time with medical specialists, the Aboriginal health service and allied health workers to appreciate that health delivery is a collaborative effort in smaller communities. ” Another student, who has Italian family, had spent some of his early years in Italy.

“He bought us a pasta maker and showed me how to make homemade pasta. Food is a serious part of the relationship: our students have been either keen cooks or keen consumers of home cooking.” Although about two-thirds of John Flynn students are female, the Pedlows’ current student is the first female to come their way. “I love our boys, but she is a treasure too,” Anne says. “Mentoring and hosting is a wonderful experience for us.” The Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, which manages the John Flynn Placement Program nationally, is collecting the experiences of students, mentors and community hosts. If you have a story to contribute to its alumni gallery, email jfpp@

Reach out

Nursing and Midwifery Portfolio Catherine Ryan, Senior representative

Achievements and activity The Nursing and Midwifery Portfolio has had a productive year, particularly surrounding relationships with stakeholders. The new title of the Portfolio was voted in at the September Council meeting to make obvious the Portfolio includes Midwifery students. The work of the Nursing and Midwifery Portfolio includes responding to enquiries from our member Rural Health Clubs. They have been approaching us to discuss ways of engaging Nursing and Midwifery students with their Rural Health Clubs. We have been encouraging Clubs to hold Nursing and Midwifery specific events, target lectures, recruit natural leaders within each year level and to provide incentive for Nursing and Midwifery membership, eg. fob watch give away with membership. However, creative and innovative recruitment strategies would strengthen these

memberships. The Portfolio also met with members at NURHC 2012 to seek fresh ideas, investigate issues for Nursing and Midwifery students and encourage members to apply for a role for the Portfolio in 2013. The CRANAplus students and new-graduates sub-committee was established as a result of NRHSN student presence at the CRANAplus conference, during which students urged CRANAplus to create formal communication channels with future health professionals. A member of the Portfolio as well as a member from one other Portfolio will sit on this committee annually. This year was focused on establishing the committee’s terms of reference, future directions of the committee, marketing of the group and the CRANAplus strategic plan. A position paper surrounding students on remote placements will be released shortly. Future direction As the Nursing and Midwifery Portfolio continues to grow, I would suggest links remain strong with CRANAplus, the Australian College of Nursing and other stakeholders. The NRHSN would benefit from fresh ideas for Nursing and Midwifery student recruitment. Catherine Ryan is a member of the NRHSN Alumni following the completion of her nursing studies at the end of 2012. She has been appointed to a graduate nursing role at Mt Isa, Queensland.

Outback to overseas... Former TROHPIQ Rural Health Club member Dr Joe Turner has completed a stint working on the US television show Survivor. Joe was responsible for the medical care of the show’s contestants and the television crew during their time in the Philippines. He is pictured at the back left of photo transferring a patient. Previously Joe has worked in Charleville, Queensland, and is currently completing obstetrics training in Coffs Harbour, NSW.

Alumni prizes Congratulations to the lucky seven winners of prizes in the NRHSN Alumni competition. The prizes included two passes to attend the GPCE conference in Melbourne on 16-18 Nov valued at $900 each, and five $50 vouchers for graduating students that joined the Alumni database. Gaya Mathantel and Nicola Rodd from Victoria received passes to attend the GPCE conference – both recently completed their medical degrees. The five winners of the vouchers are Audrey Conrick from Victoria, Melissa Ang from New South Wales, Kate Steeples from Western Australia, Peter Stickler from Queensland and Lauren Stribley from South Australia. Keep up with further opportunities on the facebook page nrhsnalumni and by signing up to the database at

Allied Health Professionals The Rural Health Professionals Program has recently been released by the Health Workforce Australia and is ready to support allied health professionals working in the non-acute sector of rural and remote Australia. The RHPP will attract, recruit and retain candidates from approved Australian and overseas locations and will provide them with retention supports (both financial and administrative) to assist them to remain practising in rural and remote communities for up to two years. Contact the Rural Workforce Agency in your state. See page 3 for listing of Rural Workforce Agencies’ contact details.

Go Rural Go Rural Australia is a federally funded campaign to encourage doctors and medical students to consider a career or locum work in rural practice. Go Rural Australia is managed by Rural Health Workforce Australia in partnership with the seven state and territory Rural Workforce Agencies. The agencies are running a variety of Go Rural Australia events ranging from rural skills weekends through to regional tours. Visit the website for Go Rural updates and information about incentive programs for rural doctors at 7

Share your experiences with other rural health professionals


Email: Alumni rural health workforce