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Australian students get a taste for rural medicine

The unique challenges of providing medical support to remote locations is something only two percent of Australia’s population will know about – but that’s all about to change.

Future health professionals from across Australia are undertaking medical shadowing with Gap Medics, which helps them improve healthcare in remote locations once they qualify. The company, founded in 2010, now has two dedicated community healthcare placements: one in Tanzania and one in the Dominican Republic.

Whilst on Mafia Island, Tanzania, students can accompany health workers on boats to smaller islands within Mafia’s archipelago. In La Romana, students can visit villages (called ‘bateyes’) that house Haitan sugarcane workers. In both cases they assist in the delivery of basic but life-saving medical treatment including vaccinations, medication, weighing babies and providing sexual health education. Many of these communities are entitled to healthcare on the mainland but rarely have the time or money to go and receive it.

“I had the best, most eye-opening experience of my life.”

Beth Jenkins from Canberra, who spent four weeks in Tanzania

There are 518,000 Australian citizens living in remote areas of the country. Residents experience three times the number of deaths from diabetes and double the number of suicides; compared to that of urban areas, specialist healthcare is sparse and severely under-resourced.

With a unique insight into how community healthcare can improve lives, young Australians who qualify as doctors may find that they needn’t travel to large cities to find a steady income and a sense of purpose.

To find out more about Gap Medics’ community healthcare placements – and their others in medicine, dentistry, midwifery, nursing and more – visit www.gapmedics.com.au.

Image via Flickr

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