Bush Bursaries and Country Women's Association Scholarship placement - Bega
The guaranteed opportunity to work in the country was the defining factor in the decision by 23-year-old Maddy Hawthorne to study medicine, leading her to undertake a Bush Bursaries and Country Women's Association (CWA) Scholarship placement.
Maddy spent two weeks during May 2019 in Bega, a town in the south east of NSW, on a rural placement that aims to attract more doctors to rural and remote NSW through demonstrating the enjoyable aspects of country life with rural medicine.
Maddy has experienced the ‘big city lifestyle’ as a fourth-year Bachelor of Medical Studies and Doctor of Medicine student at the University of NSW in Sydney. However, having grown up in a regional area and knowing she wanted to return to the country, the Bush Bursary placement has given her the opportunity to experience how rewarding a career in rural health can be.
“The greatest thing I learnt on my placement was the impact of healthcare accessibility to small communities. Each day I met patients who had travelled up to two hours just to get to Bega,” she said.
“By being involved in consults with patients I gained a clearer perspective of their experience of rural healthcare and the impact it has, not only on their health but their work, home, families and life as a whole,” Maddy said.
Maddy experienced a range of opportunities that she says is a result of the highly receptive hospital staff who were happy to involve her in any task, case or procedure and provide active, hands-on learning.
“I saw a range of diseases and their management and the placement gave me insight into what a standard day looks like for a doctor. I initially expected to only visit a few areas of the hospital; instead, I spent time in almost every ward and worked with a range of medical professionals and specialties.”
Outside of her placement, Maddy explored the south coast and discovered what living and working in a rural community is like. She found the town of Bega stunning and filled with friendly and welcoming people.
“The entire Bega area is amazingly green, and the view of fields filled with cows from the hospital show off the beauty of Bega. I enjoyed bush walking in the national parks, the cute local boutiques and weekly trivia at the pub. I went whale watching on the coastline and saw sting rays playing in the water in Kianinny Bay in Tathra,” Maddy said.
“I feel like I have a home away from home in Bega.”
Maddy began her Bush Bursary placement with the aim of increasing her understanding of the impact and importance of rural healthcare, and where it succeeds and fails.
“I really enjoyed this experience and gained a great deal from it. Now that I have first-hand knowledge of rural medicine and understand the importance of healthcare accessibility for the people of this community, I will 100 percent seek out a career in rural health.”
Learn more about the Bush Bursaries and Country Women's Association Scholarships and subscribe to receive scholarship information, RDN updates and information about opportunities to experience rural health.