Murray Bridge Clinical Skills Day 2017

FURHS and RuralDoc Murray Bridge Clinical Skills Day 2017


Alexis Gillham:

While I may not be a South Australian, beautiful Murray Bridge was a place on my must-see places when I first arrived in Adelaide more than 18 months ago and I remember noting that the location was one to remember. As a medical student who is passionate about rural medicine, I want to be sure to understand what is important to the residents of every unique local region I may have the opportunity to work in down the track. So there was no question about whether I would apply to attend the RDWA Murray Bridge Rural Day when it was advertised earlier this year and I jumped at the chance when selected to attend at the end of March.

For me, working rurally is as much about understanding what makes a place special for its residents as it is about helping people be at their healthiest – after all, home is where the heart is and the heart is what keeps us alive! It took our bus-load of 20 students (from both Flinders and Adelaide Universities) just over an hour to get to Murray Bridge. While it may be thought of as small, the city has an estimated urban population of about 17,000, making it the fifth most populous urban area in the state. While we spent most of the day learning invaluable clinical skills, vital to keeping someone alive in a rural setting – airways and intubation, catherisation and suturing - it was the discussions with the local medical team about what they enjoyed about their work that got the most attention. One of the big advantages of working rurally is the ability to fit in quality time with family around work commitments, rather than spending those precious extra daylight hours getting to and from work. The other unique thing about these more isolated locations, in terms of a medical career, is the story behind each hospital and what its operation means to the community, usually with local fundraising and donations added to the funding pot to bolster facilities. These facilities are the chance for people to be treated close to home, around family and support networks, as well as providing locals with the care needed to extend their quality of life. We got the chance to tour the Murray Bridge Soldiers’ Memorial Hospital, which provides acute services ranging from in-hospital care to specialist surgical, obstetrics, outpatients and aged care beds. We were also able to chat to staff on duty about their experiences (and love of) working in a rural setting – an opportunity that, without doubt, always makes a student want to come back and be part of the same team.


I registered for this opportunity because, like most, I wanted to better understand the scope of a rural GP. Although having clinical skills stations is useful, the greatest benefit was derived from the speakers' addresses. We were fortunate to have heard from three very different perspectives. These included GP-obstetricians (male and female, international import and local) and GP-anaesthetist. They emphasised the greater breadth of skills that need to be kept proficient when operating from a rural setting as one does not as readily have the option to refer. I am attracted to the prospect of not becoming an organ system-specific doctor and as such, this has encouraged a strong interest in me to pursue this path. The clinicians also emphasised the close working team environment and the knowledge of our colleagues' expertise and working to each others' strengths. This requires transparency and highly skilled communication and is another reason why rural medicine is an attractive option.