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Outreach supporting Obstetrics in the Bush  

1st July 2024

The RDN Outreach Student Placement Program (OSPP) provides selected medical, nursing, and allied health students with the opportunity to shadow an Outreach provider in a rural or remote community.  

The Inverell Medical Centre is supported by RDN’s Outreach program and offers the only GP Obstetrician in the area. Under the OSPP program, it hosted 20 students from July 2023 to July 2024. These students have come from as far away as Australian National University, Charles Sturt University, James Cook University, Monash University, Newcastle University, Notre Dame University, University of Western Sydney and, more locally, University of New England. 

GP Obstetrician, Dr Cheryl McIntyre, along with midwives Leanne Stokan and Erma Botes, have together been introducing young medical students at varying stages in their training, to rural obstetrics in an effort to inspire the next generation to see the possibilities of a Rural Generalist life. 

Midwife Erma Botes and Dr McIntyre receive funding from RDN’s Outreach program to support their work at the clinic. Erma is from Armajun Aboriginal Health Service and visits the medical practice to see Aboriginal patients, alongside Dr McIntyre. Erma can then ensure all follow-up care is actioned between the patient’s visits to the GP Obstetrician.

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Dr McIntyre recently told RDN, “we are grateful for the Hunter New England Local Health District joining to allow the students to also attend Inverell Hospital and possibly even see their first delivery. This will create a memory that will last a lifetime and can change the trajectory of a young doctor’s life, helping to breathe new life into the rural workforce of tomorrow! 

“Bernadette Phillips, our first RDN Student to attend Inverell Hospital, is pictured holding a new arrival shortly after the birth. Bernadette, from the University of Western Sydney, was observing under RDN’s Outreach Student Placement Program. Bernadette has now participated in three placements, but Inverell will forever remain in her memories as the town she saw her first birth.” 

The OSPP and Outreach programs are funded by the Australian Government Department of Health and Aged Care and administered by RDN in NSW and ACT. The Outreach program work to increase access to healthcare services for rural, remote and Indigenous communities. OSPP placement locations differ according to clinics visited by participating Outreach service providers but may include obstetrics, cardiology, nursing, and optometry amongst other disciplines. 



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