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“I left Bourke feeling not only inspired about Outback health care, but about what it means to be a doctor”


26th June 2023
In March, Ben Smith and Maddie Tilyou headed for Bankstown airport where they were greeted by husband-and-wife Optometry duo Kyriacoz and Katarina Mavroleftos. Loading onto a Royal Flying Doctor Service flight, they flew over Bourke, and began their two-day Outreach Student Placement.

On March 22, medical students Ben Smith and Maddie Tilyou headed for Bankstown airport where they were greeted by husband-and-wife Optometry duo Kyriacoz and Katarina Mavroleftos. Loading onto a Royal Flying Doctor Service flight, they flew over Bourke, and began their two-day Outreach Student Placement.

Their placement was as part of the Outreach Student Placement Program (OSPP) administered by RDN and funded by the Department of Health and Aged Care. OSPP provides up to 100 selected medical, nursing and allied health students in NSW/ACT with the opportunity to shadow an Outreach provider in a rural or remote community. Available Outreach providers may include GPs, physiotherapists, nurses, optometrists and many more across other disciplines. All travel, accommodation and subsistence costs are covered for these placements.

Over two days, Ben and Maddie had first-hand experience working in a rural area and the lifestyle that comes with living in the communities they visited. Ben was particularly impressed with the connection he was able to make with patients on his placement, stating, "The variety of patients and the opportunity to really connect with them through our time was really special, you felt really valued and appreciated by the communities."

"Both Katrina and Kyriacos were the most incredible people and clinicians. We truly felt so welcome and they were so, so happy to have us."

IMG_3554Maddie also spoke to the country hospitality and the impact that long-term Outreach providers have in rural and remote towns,

"From the second we landed, the welcome from the community was incredible. It was obvious that Kyri and Katerina have developed long-term and meaningful relationships with a large portion of the community."

Noting the impact the placement had on contextualising rural healthcare, Maddie said, "I have always had an interest in rural and remote care, but I don’t think I truly understood what that meant until my recent outreach placement in Bourke and Brewarrina."

"Looking down at Bourke from the plane, a tiny scattering of houses nearly lost amidst the endless flat expanse of the landscape, the degree of isolation experienced by the community was starkly visible."

Following the placement, Outreach providers Kyriacoz and Katarina said,

“Overall, we had a mutually beneficial couple of days where we learned from each other, and our young students appreciated how rewarding and fulfilling it is to collaboratively contribute our part towards the health of people in the Outback!”

 

This sentiment was echoed by both Maddie and Ben, who arrived back from the placement buzzing with excitement for all things rural.

“This RDN Outreach program has been an absolute blast, but more importantly it has affirmed my desire to practice rurally one day” said Ben, which was reiterated by Maddie, stating she “left Bourke feeling not only inspired about outback health care, but about what it means to be a doctor”.


INFORMATION FOR STUDENTS:

If you'd like to learn more about the Outreach Student Placement Program eligibility and application process, see here

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