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Christmas Island Medical Placement:
Jarrad Burges, Curtin University medical student

In February this year, I completed my elective placement on Christmas Island at the Christmas Island Hospital, an experience I will never forget.

Christmas Island is located 2,500km from Perth in the middle of the Indian Ocean, forming part of the Indian Ocean Territories. The 1,700-person population is a vibrant multicultural mix of Chinese, Malay, and Caucasian Australians. This placement provided a brilliant insight into the challenges, workings and joys of remote medical practice.

I chose this placement for my elective due to my passion for rural and remote healthcare. Having grown up on a farm in Meckering, two hours east of Perth, rural medicine has always been something I have felt drawn towards and this interest grew whilst completing my penultimate year in Busselton with the RCSWA.

My placement involved observing and working with the local doctors in the GP clinic and emergency department. Highlights included being involved in the Christmas Island Airport disaster simulation where staff from the hospital, Australian Federal Police, Border Force and local emergency services combined to simulate a mock plane crash. It was so enjoyable and showed how resourceful, dynamic and skilled you must be to work in such a remote setting.

Outside of the hospital, the experience of living on a remote tropical island for five weeks was amazing. The island is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise. The scuba diving and snorkelling are world renowned, with the island surrounded by a beautiful fringing reef providing home to an enormous variety of marine life. Tropical rainforest also covers the island providing brilliant hikes and places to explore.

This placement has been one of the highlights of my medical school journey and I recommend the experience to anyone interested. The staff on the island were incredibly welcoming, friendly and taught me an enormous amount. I am extremely grateful to the staff of the Indian Ocean Territory Health Service for the experience they provided.

Acknowledgement of Country