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NSW Riverina hosts inaugural RDN Cadet Trip


4th March 2024
Over the weekend, 30 Rural Medical Cadets headed to the beautiful Riverina in south-western NSW for RDN’s inaugural Cadet Weekend Trip, a new initiative designed to bring the rural doctors of tomorrow together for social and educational weekends away exploring country New South Wales. This first tour focused on Albury and Wagga health facilities and cultural aspects.

Cadets with local anesthetist Dr Kate Drummond on the banks of the Murray River in Albury

 

Over the weekend, 30 Rural Medical Cadets headed to the beautiful Riverina in south-western NSW for RDN’s inaugural Cadet Weekend Trip, a new initiative designed to bring the rural doctors of tomorrow together for social and educational weekends away exploring country New South Wales. This first tour focused on Albury and Wagga health facilities and cultural aspects.

The Cadets belong to the Rural Resident Medical Officer Cadetship and Indigenous Cadetship program, run by RDN on behalf of the NSW Ministry of Health, which financially supports medical students who are interested in undertaking a career in rural health in NSW, and who agree to undertake the two of the first three years of their hospital training in an eligible rural NSW hospital.

The weekend tour aimed to take students well beyond the university campus aspects of their medical education and immerse them for a time in the full gamut of country life and experiences.

Indigenous Cadet Adam Wilson from the University of Newcastle particularly enjoyed this element of the trip which gave him insights into life both in and outside the hospital setting:

“The speakers we heard provide a roadmap for what life can be like at their site. Not only the work aspect but the quality of the community and the amazing things that can be done in our free time.

“We heard about amazing hiking, social activities, and an atmosphere of genuinely caring admin staff that aim to make what will be two years of a hard slog as supported as possible” Adam said.

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Departing Sydney on Friday and stopping in for a tour of Goulburn Hospital on the way, the Cadets had lunch at the Long Track Pantry in Jugiong before arriving in the border town of Albury, where they met up with Albury-based anaesthetist Dr Kate Drummond at the picturesque Noreuil Park a for a walk and talk on the banks the iconic Murray River.

After hearing from Dr Drummond about her journey to rural medicine, students had the opportunity to ask questions about her specialities in pain management and anaesthesia, working in a border healthcare service and the perks of living in the region.

Later, students settled in for the night with a well-earned dinner at The Star Hotel with a chance to network with fellow Cadets and local interns.

 

Tales of country life and cadetships

On Saturday morning Cadets headed bright and early for a tour of Albury Base Hospital where they met General Surgeon Dr Quinton Smith, who spoke about the unique cross-border Albury Wodonga Health system, the only one of its kind in Australia jointly funded by NSW and Victoria, and the largest employer in the region.

Current Albury-based interns then took Cadets around the hospital where they had the opportunity to see first-hand where they may be working during their return of service, and heard the highlights of specific rotations from surgery to the Emergency Department and ICU. Interns told of the unique medical experience rural and regional settings offer, including participating in retrieval services and a diverse range of hands-on challenges that they may not get in a metropolitan region.

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Following the tour, students, interns and seasoned local doctors, including General Practitioner Dr Phillip Steele, gathered for a Q&A where Cadets were able to ask about the day-to-day life in their role as an intern in a regional hospital, as well as career progression in speciality areas.

Another popular topic of discussion was the lifestyle opportunities that come from living in the region. Mountain bike riding, snow and water skiing, the local wine region, Winery Walkabout and even the recently opened Albury Harris Farm were all common highlights from the locals. With a worthy mix of seasoned local knowledge and fresh interns, Cadets had the opportunity to reflect on the possibilities of their upcoming and potentially long-serving rural based career.

 

 

 

Cultural tour a highlight for medical students 

On Saturday afternoon, the group jumped back on the bus with their sights set for Wagga Wagga where they were welcomed by Wiradjuri man, artist and tour guide Mark Saddler for a cultural tour. In a post following the tour, Mark wrote:

“I post my photo nginha mulaa ( this night ) to yarra (talk) mandaang guwu (thank you) to the young rural doctors who yanhanha (walk) with me today so we could share about Wiradjuri culture and people.

I'm so very proud of the 30 people who took time out of their busy lives to come learn more about our Wiradjuri/Aboriginal people and how they can assist us to live longer.

“We Wiradjuri/Aboriginal people need to build a strong and trusting connection to those who are here to help us. I believe that these young doctors are those people.”

The cultural experience with Mark was a highlight for Cadet Sean Conroy from Wollongong University who said, “I got to do a little touring around two gorgeous rivers, learnt a bucketload about Wiradjuri culture from Mark Saddler and saw a cracking sunrise over the Murray.

“I’ve met so many wonderful and interesting people this weekend that I’m really looking forward to having as future colleagues.

“I can’t wait to get back here and make plenty more incredible memories” Sean said.

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On Sunday, the group were straight to it, touring Wagga Wagga Base Hospital, attending an Acknowledgement of Country and learning all about the training hubs. Cadets had another opportunity for Q&A during a panel with current intern Cadets Abbie Wilesmith, Nicola Kermode and Charlie Hanigan, as well as Rural Generalist on the Murrumbidgee Model Ariah Steele.

RDN Cadet and medical student from the Australian National University Taylor Glover was thrilled to be part of the Inaugural Cadet Weekend and says she highly recommends it. 

What an amazing weekend. Eleanor and the team absolutely aced the organisation and networking for both Albury/Wodonga and Wagga Wagga experiences. It gave us a great feel for life and work in these rural areas and how our life could look next year… as well as invaluable connections! Highly recommend!” Taylor said.

 

Learn more about RDN Rural Resident Medical Officer Cadetships here.

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