Posted on Monday, 12 February 2018

Muhammed Said Erdem is undertaking a rural Elective in Stanthorpe. He has written a personal reflection on his first week on placement. 

"I initially felt unsure and quite nervous of what to expect during my first week of elective placement in a rural environment. This was the first time I was placed rurally as all my other placements in previous years have been in the metropolitan hospitals. I felt that selecting a rural elective would give me greater insight into what is expected of me and would allow me to get acquainted with the staff and the rural location before I begin placements in the field.

I do feel, however, that the first week of my elective placement with QRME has been very useful as I have had the privilege to observe clinicians taking part in the Rural Generalist Anaesthetic Intro Program which is designed to support trainees to develop advanced skills in anaesthetics for rural practice. The program was filled with many activities and the staff were very accommodating and allowed me to sit in with specialists giving presentations on various topics including anaesthetic machines, intubation, spinal anaesthesia, epidurals and advanced life support. I felt that exposure to these topics has given me a greater understanding of the processes involved in anaesthetics which was somewhat lacking in previous years. I now also have a greater appreciation of the level of skill required and the multitude of risks associated with some of these procedures.

While observing the program, I could see that the doctors were from various backgrounds, coming from many different hospitals in the region and had different levels of experience. This made me think about my own position as a medical student and the expected level of knowledge I was to have. I did feel that my knowledge was lacking whenever the group were discussing patient scenarios and management strategies which made me consider the expected knowledge of an intern and the commitment to develop effective study strategies to meet these expectations.

I was also a volunteer patient during an ultrasound session which made me feel valued and part of the team as I could help them with their learning. During this time, I could see the struggle that some of these doctors demonstrated when trying to use the machine and find structures. This made me think about my own deficiency in various procedural skills and the need to continually practice and work on developing my techniques over time to be ready for internship.

Towards the end of the week, I also sat in with the current third year Longlook students during their orientation to gain some insight into what the rural program would involve, and this made me consider what my experiences would have been like if I decided to do rural during my third year. I do feel that I would have gained more clinical experience and developed greater confidence in my abilities as there is a greater emphasis on integrating students with the hospital team.

Before the placement this week, I had not really considered aspects of the rural generalist program. However, getting a glimpse of what was involved in being a rural generalist, even if only in anaesthetics, has allowed me to have a greater appreciation of this career path. For the rest of the elective, I intend to learn more about what is involved in medical education and hopefully gain some experience in rural aspects of medical care. I am still uncertain and feel unprepared of what to expect for the rest of my rural placement, however I do feel that getting exposure in multiple aspects of rural medicine and utilising the supports provided by QRME will prepare me well for internship and beyond."