Whilst over two-thirds of Australians live in urbanised cities, one in ten reside in outer regional areas, and around one in forty live remotely. One defining feature of geographic remoteness is that many Australians experience isolation when it comes to receiving healthcare services.
Heart of Australia’s NextGen Medics Program acts as a roadmap that enables medical or allied health students to experience the realities of working in rural healthcare. Kyle Fan, one of our NextGen Medic Student Alumni, has always dreamed of working as a cardiac sonographer when he graduates his degree in cardiac sonography at the University of South Australia and is well on the path to that dream since taking up a position as a Medical Aide with Heart of Australia.
Kyle believed that the NextGen Medic Program would provide him with an “eye-opening experience that focused on mixing the outback’s challenges with learning more about the people and culture” as opposed to learning textbook scenarios. Upon his application, Kyle was successful in securing a place as a NextGen Medic student and as he began to immerse himself into the program, he explained that the program enabled himself and fellow medic students the ability to apply their academic understanding within genuine rural communities, helping those doing it tough.
It wasn’t until Kyle stepped onto the truck that he understood the severity of the healthcare inequity gap. There are vast numbers of people living rurally in Australia who have overcome challenges harder and greater than many of us in this lucky country would ever dream of. Kyle explained that one of his most memorable experiences was visiting the rural town, Theodore, where Dr Bruce Chater has been Theodore’s practice principal since 1981. Facilitating health clinics in rural and remote towns regularly where local medical professionals can work together with leading Heart of Australia specialists, relieves pertinent healthcare inequities. Kyle said, “it’s individuals like Dr Bruce Chater (the father of rural healthcare) who inspire me every day, I was determined to pay these opportunities within this program forward.”
A lack of understanding, due in part to the vast distance separating those living rurally and hearing stories of those who have unfortunately become ill, has led to fear for those living remotely. For students of the NextGen Medics Program, like Kyle, who have listened to and been inspired by past stories of those living rural, there are still so many equally tragic and inspirational stories yet to be told. The Heart of Australia NextGen program acts as a speedbump for those living rural, breaking down healthcare inequities due to distance and giving a new lease of life for first-time patients, all while providing invaluable learning opportunities for our students.
Since completing the NextGen program Kyle believes at the end of the day, “why shouldn’t those living rural have access to healthcare?” We should be able to give them, what is given to us in the city.
“Everyone deserves a fair go. Our patients are farmers who contribute to the community, grow our food and look after our livestock. They also pay taxes,” says Kyle.
“Giving everyone an equal opportunity and thinking about the bigger picture is important.” Living rural shouldn’t mean sacrificing one’s quality of life or lifespan.
The Heart of Australia NextGen program provides hope and greater accessibility of healthcare services to all Queenslanders living both rurally or very remotely. It provides future medical and allied health students just like Kyle the opportunity to kick-start their own journey in healthcare.
Since Kyle has completed the program, his dream to work in cardiac sonography has been reinvigorated, and he is excited to start the path to his career journey with Heart of Australia – first as a member of the NextGen Medics program and now as a Medical Aide, commencing sonography training with Heart of Australia in 2023.
Applications are now open for the 2022 NextGen Medic Program. To learn more about the program and to apply, please click here: https://www.heartofaustralia.com/nextgen-medics/