Building medical workforce in communities: everyone’s business

Published 07 August 2012

nhudsonLocal communities have a vital role to play in building Australia’s rural medical workforce. That’s the message of a free public lecture to be given by the University of New England’s Professor Nicky Hudson at 6.30 pm on Wednesday 8 August in the Armidale Ex-Services Memorial Club.

“People sometimes think of the widespread lack of rural doctors as being a challenge for the government or for universities, but the truth is it’s everybody’s problem,” said Professor Hudson (pictured here), who took up the position of Professor of Innovation in Medical Education and Rural Medicine at UNE in March this year.

In her talk – her Inaugural Lecture within the New England community as a UNE Professor – Nicky Hudson will describe a program of placements she previously implemented in which a medical student lives, learns, and works for one year in regional, rural or remote NSW. She would like to see that model, referred to as “longitudinal placements”, introduced in New England.

The lecture will be titled “Building medical workforce in your community: everyone’s business”.

“We know that GPs are sometimes reluctant to accept student doctors for short placements because they don’t see the long-term benefits for their practice or the rural areas they work in,” Professor Hudson said. “The benefit of these long-term placements, when students alternate between working in hospitals and in general practice, is that once a senior student starts to become more competent they become a real asset to the doctors they’re working with – and, more importantly, to the communities they serve.”

Just as important as doctors willing to mentor rural medical students are patients willing to be treated by them, Prof Hudson continued. “If patients won’t have students in the room with them, we might as well turn around and go home,” she said.

Professor Hudson has a wealth of experience in improving access to health care for under-served populations. Her clinical background has included work in remote health with the Royal Flying Doctor Service in South Australia, in Indigenous health at the Nunkuwarrin Yunti centre in Adelaide, and as an urban GP in Adelaide. Her international work has included academic positions in Southampton and Exeter in England, and at the Fiji School of Medicine in Suva.

The lecture will be followed by drinks and canapés.