Springs Medical has just welcomed two new third year medical students for their Clinical Practice year. This is the twelfth year that Deakin students have been mentored at Springs.

Sane Dube studied and practised radiography in Zimbabwe before migrating to Australia in 2015. She worked in her chosen field in Australia before being admitted to the medical program at Deakin in 2019. She hopes to specialise in women’s health and cardiology.

Catrina Sturmberg completed an honours degree in Physiotherapy at the University of Newcastle in 2012. She worked in private practice before starting her Doctor of Medicine at Deakin in 2019. She hopes to combine her physiotherapy practise to specialise in musculoskeletal health and women’s health.

New medical students Sanelisiwe Dube (left) and Catrina Sturmberg.

Sane and Catrina are enrolled in the Rural Community Clinical School (RCCS) in the Deakin School of Medicine. The School has affiliated training centres in Daylesford, Bacchus Marsh, Melton, Ararat, Camperdown, Colac, Hamilton, Horsham, Portland and Stawell.

RCCS is a Longitudinal Integrated Clerkship (LIC), an innovative educational program in which students learn in an ‘apprenticeship model’ under the guidance of GP supervisors.  In this model, clinical learning is integrated across the year and directed by the students’ clinical experience.  Students participate in a range of clinical activities available at their site, such as General Practice consulting, maternity units, operating theatre, specialist consulting sessions and community health activities. Students are encouraged to learn from the patients they see and the conditions they encounter locally.  They are also encourage to explore, with home visits, how patients manage between medical appointments.

New students commence their Clinical Practise year in January and complete their studies in November. In addition to their coursework,  they are encouraged to engage in the local community through sporting clubs and other associations. Depending on their commitments, students may be available for speaking engagements in the community. They are supported in their community involvement by Community Advisory Board Member, Tim Bach.

RCCS encourages students to work in rural communities after graduation.  Deakin research has shown that students who are from a rural background or train rurally, are more likely to return to a rural area to work, especially in their early post-graduate years.

Dr Albert Ip, a medical practitioner at Springs Medical, was appointed as Regional Academic Coordinator for the Deakin Medical School in 2019. “Deakin RCCS has a priority to attract more medical professionals to regional areas. We are incentivized to reach a target of 50% of our annual intake from regional areas,” Dr Ip said. “Quality clinical experiences in smaller regional townships help illustrate to graduates that the breadth and depth of experiences, mentors and teachers, rival our base hospital and metropolitan clinical schools counterparts. The Dean’s list representation from RCCS reflects that.”

“We are just beginning to reap the rewards with some of our previous students returning as General Practitioners and hospital doctors,” Dr Ip added.

Dr Beth Quin, a Clinical Education Supervisor at Springs, commented on the importance of clinical experience in the development of new doctors. “I would like to thank our patients at Springs for their immense generosity each time they consent to a student being involved in their consultation. The training model would not work without the cooperation of clients and their GPs.”