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Why do people choose rural medicine?

17 September 2021

Everything you need to know about becoming a rural doctor.

A career in rural medicine offers opportunities and experiences not available within urban areas. Students who choose to study within rural communities gain exposure to a wider variety of cases and clinical experiences.

Pathway to becoming a doctor and choosing rural medicine

We welcome students from lots of different places, courses, and experiences. There are some important steps before you can apply to study medicine with us.

You will need to complete a bachelor's degree to be eligible to apply. You will also need to sit the GAMSAT and meet other requirements which change from time to time so please check admissions criteria for the year you apply. 

Learn more about the available entry pathways to a medicine program.

Rural placements and specialty training

Curious about rural practice? During your 3rd or 4th year, why not apply for a extended clinical placement in Broken Hill, Dubbo, Lismore, or Orange.  You will find that you can live and study as part of our community. 

There is something special about rural training! During your placement, you will complete rotations in a wide range of specialties. This includes dedicated time to study in rural general practice. You will get to know your patients and the community. You'll also work closely with different medical teams and play an active and important role in patient care. 

“That community feel that you don’t get in Sydney makes it a lot easier to get to know people and to form relationships within the medical community.”
Elise Butler, Medical Student (Orange).

Busting myths about rural practice

Myth: You won't get much variety in the bush

Fact: We see interesting and diverse medicine in rural places. We know our people often present later, with more complex health concerns, and with great need. You'll see just about everything out here, and you'll be actively involved as a medical student. 

Myth: Your career will be limited by training rurally

Fact: You'll be offered experiences, mentoring, and support you never knew existed. From the patients to the specialists, rural people value anyone willing to put their hand up and try a rural immersion. There are diverse training programs and bespoke career support for anyone considering a rural career. 

“Both as a student and as a junior doctor in Dubbo I had the opportunity to do outreach and have been to Bourke and Coonabarabran for clinics, says Dr. Georgia Cunningham, PGY2 Dubbo, The University of Sydney MBBS Alumni.

"It gave me a better picture of what it is like for the rural community members to access care. The clinical exposure here is excellent and the responsibilities you’re given as a junior make you feel valued and a part of the team while still being supported."

Myth: You will be isolated being so far from home

Fact: Our communities are close knit and welcoming. You'll have an instant social and professional network to slot into. Our clinical placements are based  in major regional centres that have all the services you could need.

We work closely with our nursing and allied health teams to provide the highest quality patient care, training experience, and vibrant careers. We love it out here, and we think you will too!  You may also have the opportunity for a remote rotation to Bourke, Wilcannia, Menindee etc. depending on which location you chose. 

“You really become an integral part of the hospital and the larger community – everyone knows you by name; doctors, nurses, cleaners and administration, everyone is so incredibly welcoming”
Daniel Stewart, Director of Emergency Medicine

Rural medicine alumni

Paul Lunney

Paul Lunney

General Practitioner and Academic

Paul started his career in nursing and made the jump to GP via our Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery program.

During his third year of studies, Paul took up the opportunity to do his placement at Dubbo, getting his first taste of rural medicine.

During his placement a supervisor allowed Paul to lead a minor surgical procedure, the thrilling experience demonstrated the value of broad clinical practice available within rural communities and hooked Paul on a regional career.

“Working as a rural GP has a continuity of care to the community that can be incredibly rewarding. It’s quite humbling to be able to assist your community in their times of need.”

Paul’s advice to medicine students considering a career in rural practice is to take every opportunity available to you during your studies, “don’t discount something until you’ve tried it.”

Learn more about Paul's experience in rural medicine.

Georgia Cunningham

Georgia Cunningham

Resident at Dubbo Hospital

Graduating from our Doctor of Medicine program in 2019, Georgia now works as a resident at Dubbo Hospital, dealing with a broad range of presentations from across the hospital.

Georgia’s journey in rural medicine began after completing her placement at Dubbo, noting she “jumped at the opportunity” to dive into a regional community.

“Places like Dubbo are excellent towns to live in, they’re cheap, there’s lots to do on your weekends and days off. It’s a fantastic lifestyle” says Georgia.

Georgia’s time working within the Dubbo community has offered her opportunities to form unique relationships with local health professionals as well as the greater community, stating that she’s found “very welcoming support networks in regional settings.”

“Patients in the hospital thank you for being part of the community.”

Daniel Stewart

Daniel Stewart

ED specialist

Daniel graduated from the University of Sydney via our Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery program.

After undertaking placement at Dubbo Daniel knew a career outside of a metro area was where he wanted to be.

“Rural lifestyle has a lot of desirable and attractive things going for it.”

Today Daniel is a Director of Emergency Medicine, overseeing both the clinical and governance side of the emergency department. He cites the variety of cases and broad clinical practice as key elements that drew him to a career in rural medicine.

To anyone considering a rural placement Daniel says “There’s no doubt rural placements are the superior training and professional choice.”

Learn more about Daniel's experience in rural medicine.

Yvonne Chang

Yvonne Chang

Medical student at Royal North Shore Hospital

Currently completing her Doctor of Medicine Yvonne had her passion for rural medicine solidified after placements at Broken Hill, Dubbo and Narrabri.

Yvonne notes that her time in a rural area offered her opportunities to work with a larger variety of patient presentations than her peers in urban areas.

“Regional living is great. You get to be a part of a community in a way that is very different to the city. If you invest in these communities, people really invest back in you.”

Yvonne’s advice to anyone considering a rural placement is to go in with an open mindset and get to know people. “If you put in the effort, you'll find that people are incredibly kind and generous with their time.”

“Every town is different, but I don't think you'll regret time spent in rural or regional medicine.”

Rob Zielinski

Rob Zielinski

Chair of COSA Regional and Rural Executive Group at Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA)

Director of Orange Hospital Cancer Clinical Trials Unit

During the third year of his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Sydney Rob took the opportunity to expand his studies on our Orange campus.

“People in medicine pay more attention to those that explore the world around them, that means going rural. You’ll never regret the decision.”

From day one on our Orange campus Rob was confident he’d made the right decision, being surrounded by health specialists passionate about improving the health outcomes of their communities was thrilling.

Having enjoyed the collegiate and collaborative nature of his rural experience Rob has pursued a career outside of metropolitan medicine now working as the Director of the Cancer Clinical Trials Unit at Orange Hospital as well as Chair of Regional and Rural Executive Group at Clinical Oncology Society of Australia (COSA).

Rob’s advice to anyone considering rural study is to “make sure you take up the opportunity.”

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