NextGen Medics, the inaugural cohort
2020 marked an exciting milestone for Heart of Australia, with the launch of NextGen Medics, our new student experience program.
NextGen Medics provides current medical and allied health students with the opportunity to experience Heart of Australia’s innovative service delivery model. Specifically – the delivery of specialist medical services and the state of the art equipment required, to rural and regional communities via our Heart Trucks.
Our inaugural NextGen cohort includes Aaron Lorimer, Erin Wallace, Heidi Wagner, Kate Murray, Kenta Sen and Samuel Ngugi, hailing from University of Queensland, Griffith University and University of Southern Queensland.
NextGen Medics is designed to give students first-hand insights into the health inequity in rural and regional Australia and understand the life-saving and life-changing impact that doctors can have. It showcases how they can make a positive contribution in the future as doctors and allied health professionals. We also provide the students with unprecedented behind-the-scenes insights into how we practice specialist medicine on our mobile medical clinics, and the roles performed by our logistical, administrative and clinical teams.
We believe that students who have the opportunity to experience rural medicine and rural communities in an engaging, authentic manner are more likely to engage in some form of rural medicine or health care in the future.
Feedback from the students has been overwhelmingly positive. Students across the board have consistently reported that they are more likely or far more likely to engage in some form of rural medicine or health care in the future – which is precisely what we were hoping for.
Their thoughtful and informative feedback also highlighted that they have a new appreciation of the challenges associated with accessing and delivering medical and health care in rural and regional communities. Several have fallen in love with the beauty of rural Australia – its landscapes, communities and characters.
“The exposure to rural towns and the ability to hear stories from people in these areas is eye-opening.
NextGen is an invaluable experience for a medical student.” Kate Murray
The students engaged in clinics in Stanthorpe, Dalby, Middlemount, Moura, Theodore, Charleville and Roma. They attended two GP Education Sessions covering cardiology and psychology and engaged in discussions with our specialists and sonographers. They shared insightful, and at times, profoundly moving conversations with patients; participated in patient consultations in cardiology, endocrinology, psychology and geriatric medicine. They observed and learned about sonography and performed ECGs.
Thanks to the fantastic team the Theodore Medical Centre, headed up by Dr Bruce Chater, the students were able to gain first-hand experience of a thriving rural GP practice and rural hospital.
This program would not have been made possible without the support of many people and organisations. Operational funding support from the Federal Government allowed us to waive participant fees for 2020, so our first six students could participate in the NextGen program’s pilot cohort without paying a participation fee.
The HIACE provided by Toyota Australia was vital in transiting our students to and from our block locations and transporting them from location to location within the blocks. When our students needed to fly to north-west towns, several of them flew courtesy of REX. As our GP Education program sponsor, Bayer welcomed all the students to our GP Education dinner events. And, as always, we acknowledge the ongoing support of Arrow Energy, our Foundation Partner who was instrumental in making the dream of Heart of Australia a reality.
This program would not have been the highly engaging and authentic learning opportunity it has been without the support and dedication of our specialists, sonographers, team members and patients.
It has been a great joy engaging with the students during the program, and we were immensely proud to welcome them as our first alumni cohort. We look forward to finding meaningful opportunities to continue working together to enhance and grow the program and play a role in reducing health inequity for rural and regional Australians.
We cannot sign off before acknowledging and thanking the students themselves, who have been an absolute delight. They are passionate, determined, intelligent, empathetic and inspiring. If these six students represent the future of rural medicine, then rural Australia is in good hands.
Students interested in receiving updates about future NextGen Medics cohort intakes can join the waiting list at https://www.heartofaustralia.com/nextgen-medics/.
“The NextGen Medics program is incredible. I’ve learned so much, and I’m more excited than ever
for a career involving rural health. I am proud to be a NextGen Medics alumnus.” Heidi Wagner