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The importance of developing potential for rural practice: a student's journey

4th September 2023

“My early and repeated exposures to rural and remote health have been the most memorable parts of my medical journey…” – Jean-Baptiste Philibert (JB) 

The Office of the National Rural Health Commissioner has partnered with the Medical Journal of Australia to produce a special supplement that shines a light on the important role education plays in developing and growing Australia’s regional, rural, and remote health workforce. 

JB Chair photo

RDN Cadet, final year medical student at Western University and recent Chair of the National Rural Health Student Network (NRHSN), Jean-Baptiste Philibert (JB), has contributed to the supplement by writing an article about seizing rural health student opportunities to develop both personally and professionally. 

 ‘The importance of developing potential for rural practice: a student's journey influenced by rural health opportunities’, explores JB’s journey of being a medical student, with JB telling RDN “…the student opportunities from RDN are a significant part of the journey I describe.” 

“I never imagined that I would be a rural medical officer cadet studying in the New South Wales city of Bathurst,” JB writes. “Before this, I spent years wandering and searching for a community; I grew up on Reunion Island off the coast of Africa, experienced a chikungunya epidemic and its impact on under resourced remote health care. I moved to Western Australia as an international student to study English, and worked in roles such as breakfast chef and tour guide, taking international students on tours of the outback. At 29, I decided to become a factor for change for those who need it most and moved to Sydney to study medicine.” 

Since the first year of his degree in 2019, JB has been supported by RDN to take part in five different outreach programs throughout the state, a Go Rural trip in the Riverina and is currently part of the Cadetship program. 

“This is significant exposure to rural NSW that I have not been able to have through the metropolitan-centric university pathway, and this ongoing connection to rural health is to credit for my decision to intern in Albury-Wodonga, to eventually become a rural generalist. Furthermore, RDN has always been extremely supportive of the National Rural Health Student Network, another big part of my leadership journey.” 

JB acknowledges that the predictors of rural practice are varied and conflicting, adding “Rural origin is a major factor, but regardless of origin, repeated exposure to rural communities throughout training is paramount in producing future rural practitioners.

“RDN ensures that rural health isn't second rate when it comes to educating the health professionals of tomorrow.” 

Read more about JB and his fascinating story at The Medical Journal of Australia, including all that he achieved whilst Chair of NRHSN.  

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