Page turner for medical students
WHEN Angie Wood finishes medical school she plans to work with Northern Territory indigenous communities.
However, local doctor and director of the University Department of Rural Health in Lismore, Sue Page, is working on changing her mind.
Ms Wood is the first indigenous medical student to go through a placement with the University Department of Rural Health.
She is part of a group of 14 fourth-year medical students from the University of Western Sydney starting a 12-month placement on the Northern Rivers as part of their medical training and, hopefully, convince them to go into practice here once they qualify.
The theory is that most doctors will want to practice within a short distance of wherever they have trained. The proof is in the last 12-month placement of 25 medical students from the University of Wollongong. Dr Page said about half had applied to do their internships at Lismore Base or at the Tweed Hospital.
Dr Page said this year’s group, being undergraduates, made it even more likely some would want to stay ‘because they’re less likely to be partnered and mortgaged’.
And she’s fairly upfront about what she wants.
“I tell the students, quite blatantly, I expect them to get married while they are here,” she said.
The students laugh, presumably because they think she’s joking, but ‘they look keen at the same time’.
There was no post of campus matchmaker. However, Dr Page said there was a conscious effort to make sure the students enjoyed their time here.
The work was also geared to be more interesting and challenging than the students would find at a metropolitan hospital. Students placed at small hospitals tended to end up meshing with the teams there and virtually functioned as junior medical officers.
Yesterday, only a day into her placement, Ms Wood said her goal was to head to the Northern Territory. That said, she noted Lismore was only a few hours from her home in Nambucca Heads, and she could work in indigenous health here.