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1000km RDN Cadet road trip takes rural doctors of tomorrow out beyond the ranges


25th March 2024
By Theo Clark
Over the weekend, a convoy of 30 RDN Medical Cadets took part in a 1000km road trip from Sydney to central and north-western New South Wales, visiting medical facilities and exploring cultural highlights, while enjoying the hospitality of the rural health community at Mudgee and Dubbo Hospitals, the RFDS Base in Dubbo, and Tamworth Hospital.

RDN Cadets with a panel of consultants at Dubbo Base Hospital

 

Over the weekend, a convoy of 30 RDN Medical Cadets took part in a 1000km road trip from Sydney to central and north-western New South Wales, visiting medical facilities and exploring cultural highlights, while enjoying the hospitality of the rural health community at Mudgee and Dubbo Hospitals, the RFDS Base in Dubbo, and Tamworth Hospital.

This was the second RDN Cadet Weekend Trip for 2024, following a successful visit to Albury and Wagga via Goulburn two weeks ago. “The Cadetship Program has been a successful strategy in recruiting and maintaining a rural medical workforce and the weekend trips allow Cadets to get a feel for, and understanding of, what life is like in regional and rural NSW,” said RDN’s Future Workforce Manager, Chris Russell. “The Cadetship has been Funded by the NSW Government since 1989, so there are many former Cadets in each town who are involved in inspiring this next generation too.”

Cadet and fourth year University of New England student, Gina Bowden, who grew up in Bundaberg and is heading to Taree next year for her final year of university, praised the Cadetship experience for offering her so many unique opportunities and connections. 

“The Cadet Trip has just blown away all the expectations I had - especially Dubbo, where everybody was so passionate and enjoyed what they did and having the consultants and the executive of the Hospital coming to meet us and come out to dinner with us as well,” she said. “It was really inspirational to see how passionate they are about living and working in these rural areas…. After dinner, we even saw one of the JMO’s play piano and sing and he was just incredible! RFDS Dubbo was a really good experience too – inspiring!

"The biggest surprise of the tour was Mudgee, I didn’t realise the hospital was new and really beautifully designed with a lot of natural lighting which you don’t normally get with hospitals... The highlight at Mudgee was also meeting the people – and to hear the services they offer, I just didn’t realise Mudgee had all those services for the community. 

“In Tamworth, I think the hospital tour was really good, and again the JMO’s were so passionate about working in Tamworth and all the opportunities they have… and we went with Len Waters on an Aboriginal cultural tour and it was just beautiful.”

Although the Cadet convoy collected students from both city and country backgrounds, enthusiasm for rural health was the order of the day. 

“A common theme that did come up today was what trainees can expect from an experience in Dubbo Hospital,” Dr Colin McLintock, Director of Physician Education at Dubbo told us after participating in a Q&A with cadets. “Probably the first thing we offer is an incredibly diverse pathology – highly complex patient care, strong exposure to indigenous health issues and a real ability to get involved, learn and see first-hand the difference you can make, even from your very youngest formative years as a doctor. It’s a very enriching experience.”

Nearby at the Dubbo base of the Royal Flying Doctor Service South Eastern Section, Chief Medical Officer Dr Shannon Nott told RDN “We have a huge breadth of opportunities for medical students and young doctors in terms of being able to not only learn from high quality rural and remote health professionals, but also have fulfilling health careers, going into areas where there’s some of the most vulnerable communities that need high quality doctors, nurses and allied health staff. For me, being able to speak with RDN Cadets allows us to talk about why we enjoy our job.”

Professor Jenny May AM, Director of the University of Newcastle Dept. of Rural Health facilitated panel discussions for the Cadets at Tamworth Hospital. “The key message that will come through to Cadets is that rural communities just like ours in Tamworth and in Dubbo, Albury, Orange and Wagga are really welcoming places,” Prof. May told RDN. “On our panels today we’ve got three people born in rural areas, and two who were not and that’s a good representation of regional health communities… We’ve also got international medical graduates who may not always have made a choice to come here, but on coming to our rural and regional towns have found a family of their own and grown in the community to be well loved and respected.”

Chris Russell thanked the communities for making the trip such a meaningful and valuable experience for the Cadets.“We are very grateful for the support of the Local Health Districts, hospital staff, clinicians and organisations such as The Royal Flying Doctor Service and Regional Training Hubs who made the Cadets feel very welcome and are all heavily involved in promoting their regions."

For Cadet Gina Bowden, the trip has left her with only one difficulty: “Everywhere just seems to have so many good things about it, it almost makes it really difficult to choose where to go! So, thank you to everyone who helped organise this - I think I speak on behalf of everyone when I say that we all really enjoyed our time!”


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For more information, visit the homepage for the Rural Resident Medical Officer Cadetship program on our website.

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