Ben Crough, a third-year pharmacy student at the University of New England, is helping to shape the future of rural health.
Ben has been elected as secretary of the National Rural Health Students Network (NRHSN) for 2012.
The network represents more than 9,000 medical, nursing and allied health students who belong to 29 Rural Health Clubs at universities around Australia. At the local level, Ben is co-president of UNE’s Rural Health Club, NERCHA (New England Rural Club for Health Alliance).
Ben and his colleagues on the NRHSN executive oversee the activities of the entire nation-wide network, which comprises five portfolios: medical, nursing, allied health, Indigenous health, and community and advocacy. “We’re working to increase professional development opportunities for health students – with a focus on rural and regional experience,” he said.
“As only a few of the Rural Health Clubs are based – like UNE’s – in country areas,” Ben said, “the network helps city-based health students make country connections and gain opportunities to experience rural life. It’s a great way for students to connect with other people who share a passion for the country.
“And we’ll be continuing to encourage our members to visit rural high schools and Indigenous festivals to talk to students about the opportunities for health-related careers in rural Australia.”
“We are the future of rural health,” he said, “and there’s a huge need for more of us out there in the regions. As soon as I graduate I want to go out and start helping those regional communities.”
The student network is supported by Rural Health Workforce (RHW), a national not-for-profit organisation dedicated to improving community access to primary health care. RHW is the national peak body for the State and Territory Rural Workforce Agencies that recruit and support health professionals in rural and remote Australia.
Ben is enjoying UNE’s Bachelor of Pharmacy degree program, which he joined in its inaugural year in 2010. When he graduates he’d like to work in a regional hospital pharmacy, acquiring skills that would equip him to work in smaller, more remote communities.
“Having grown up in Tamworth, I’ve always had a connection with rural life,” he said.