Every year, more than 350 students from WA’s medical schools participate in the Rural General Practice Placement (RGPP) program. The program offers students a unique opportunity to gain hands-on experience by working alongside rural GPs.
During their placement, students rotate through hospitals, aged care facilities, and in some cases, remote clinics, exposing them to a wide range of medical conditions and procedures rarely encountered in urban teaching hospitals.
Students are encouraged to fully immerse themselves in the rural experience by participating in community events, local sports and volunteer ambulance work.
Katanning-based RGPP coordinator Dr Emmon Mubbashir believes the RGPP term is often a student’s only insight into “how things work in the country.”
“It’s very important for them to get a sense of how remote some places are and see the breadth of skills of our amazing rural generalists when they don’t have the luxury of tertiary hospitals, partialists and all sorts of investigations available 24/7,” she explains.
“A career in general practice gives you a strong foundation to navigate an undifferentiated problem and you can always find your niche – GP Obstetrics or GP Emergency or GP Anaesthetist and the list goes on.”
Great Southern welcome
The welcoming and positive learning environment offered by Denmark Family Practice in 2022 during her two-week RGPP placement was enough to make Hope Kleinfelder want to stay in
“I already had a strong desire to practise rurally, as evidenced by my completion of two year at RCSWA Albany. That said, the RGPP experience strengthened my interest in rural practice, and rural general practice specifically,” Hope explains.
Developing her clinical reasoning and practical skills by continuing to see patients independently as well as learning about the daily operations of rural general practice and how small-town emergency departments function, were personal goals Hope had going into the placement.
With these goals now achieved, Hope is excited about working as an intern in Albany next year with the WA Country Health Service and trying different things during her junior doctor years.
“I’m undecided about what I would like to specialise in. Long-term I see myself working in the country and hope to complete rural terms as part of my training in whatever I choose to do,” she adds.
RCSWA Broome final year medical student Kamran Ahmed has WA’s remote Kimberley region firmly in his sights as a place to practise in future.
Kamran has gathered some valuable perspectives of the region through the RGPP program in Broome this year and his penultimate year in Derby last year.
“Over the four-week placement my schedule included attending remote clinics such as Balgo and Beagle Bay as well as rotations in Derby and Fitzroy Crossing Hospital, working alongside rural generalists.
“I really enjoyed being able to immerse myself in a remote setting and appreciate providing patient care in places where you are very isolated from definitive care.”
His Kimberley immersion continued in his spare time, with plenty of fishing and camping adventures and memorable stays with wildlife conservationists Ray and Heidi Sampey and Andy Smythe in Derby, and Sally and Chris Towne on Gogo Station near Fitzroy Crossing.
“This experience will help me as an intern next year by allowing me to appreciate how remote and isolated patients are and how to better manage patients now knowing where they are coming from and will be discharged to,” he reveals.
Kamran intends to pursue a career either as a generalist or a specialist working towards understanding and managing middle ear disease in the Kimberley.
“I was able to have my first long term immersion in a rural setting in Derby last year with RCSWA. All of this, combined with my RGPP experience, has affirmed my desire to practise rurally in the future.”
For further information about the RGPP program, contact [email protected]
Hope Kleinfelder scales Denmark’s Mt Lindesay.
Kamran Ahmed on a Kimberley crabbing mission.