Photo above: Rural health students share experiences at the Longreach social event at the Outback Yacht
Club, Camden Station. Front row – from left – Peter Coombes, Dr Sarah Handley, Rev. Jenny
Coombes, Dr Ky Bexendell, Rachel Pitt , Dr Christine Ross, Caitlin Norbury, Kylie Patterson, Dr
Nadish Kariyawasam, Rosie Doherty, Dr David Rimmer, Katie Schell, Georgia Henry, Sam
Reilly, Harley Giles, Carolyn Reimann, Zac King, Dugald Gourlay, Lachlan Moore, Gurpreeth
Singh, Liz McDonald, Jake Gneidling, Dr Tom Palmer, Tahlia Jade, Douglas Brown, Lisa Lloyd,
Amy Elson, Richard Harris, Marij Krekt.
Back row – from left – Nicole Saxby, Alex Chapman, Menno Glass, Tarren Zimsen, Tom Currie,
Fraser McBean, Steven Bajwa, Xavier Goldburg, Grace Bailey-Rodick.

An inaugural social gathering at Longreach over the Easter long weekend will become an
annual event for rural students studying medicine, nursing and other health-related subjects.

James Cook University sixth-year medical student Fraser McBean said the Longreach event
was designed to provide support and networking opportunities for health students in rural areas
of northern and western Queensland.

“Everyone knows the challenges of attracting health professionals of any kind to rural and
regional areas,’’ Mr McBean said.

“But there are many students in health-related disciplines who choose to undertake placements
in rural health facilities during their studies and who are keen to pursue a future career in the
bush once they graduate.

“Gatherings like the one at Longreach allow these like-minded students to get together, swap
stories and encourage and support each other in their long-term goals of returning to country
areas to work as qualified health professionals.

“It also helps get the message across to other students who might not have considered a rural
placement as part of their studies, let alone a future career in the country, to think again.

“I’m originally from Proserpine. So, as a small town person myself, I’m passionate about
promoting the benefits of life and a career in small country towns for health professionals.

“Rural health facilities provide far greater opportunities than metropolitan areas to improve your
general skills, network and get to know your local community.

“In a metropolitan health facility, you are part of a much larger machine and therefore are not
exposed to as great a variety of professional experiences as you are in a smaller facility.

“It’s been my experience that health students who do placements in rural health facilities quickly
realise just how fulfilling it can be working in country areas – both personally and professionally.

“So anything that encourages more health students to consider a rural placement as part of
their education will only widen and deepen the pool of people willing to give serious
consideration to a career in the country once they become fully qualified health professionals.’’

Mr McBean, who is undertaking a rural student placement at Longreach Hospital, helped
organise the Longreach social event together with fellow Longreach sixth year student Georgia
Henry.

The event was supported by James Cook University’s Club RHINO (Rural Health in the
Northern Outback), the club for rural health students in northern and western Queensland.

Club RHINO aims to promote rural health issues and opportunities within the disciplines of
medicine, dentistry, nursing, paramedicine, pharmacy, occupational therapy, physiotherapy,
speech pathology, biomedicine, exercise science and social work.

Thanks to the success of the Longreach event, it will now become part of Club RHINO’s annual
calendar of events.

Mr McBean said more than 50 people had attended the Longreach event, which was held at the
Outback Yacht Club at Camden Park Station near Longreach.

“We had students, junior doctors and other health professionals attending from Cairns, Mount
Isa, Emerald, Barcaldine, Winton, Charters Towers and Townsville, as well as Longreach,’’ he
said.

“It was an amazing gathering.’’

ENDS