AMSA Rural Health Summit 2018 – Go Beyond the Border

Jordan Vivian talks about her life as a medical student and spreads the word about the upcoming AMSA Rural Health Summit 2018, a national event designed to bring medical students in Australia to share their knowledge and passion for rural health. It will take place in Albury from September 28th to 30th. Jordan is the co-convener of the said event and is a representative of the Australian Medical Students Association.


Toby Longhurst: Hello and welcome to Health Professional Radio. My name is Toby Longhurst and joining me in conversation today is Jordan Vivian. Jordan is a representative of the Australian Medical Students Association and is the co-convener of their upcoming Rural Health Summit. Jordan welcome to the program.

Jordan Vivian: Thank you Toby.

Toby: Let’s start a little bit about who you are. You are studying medicine, where are you studying?

Jordan: So I’m currently studying at the University of New South Wales Albury Campus, it’s one of our rural Clinical schools. I’ve been here since about February last year and I’ve enjoyed my time so much down here in Albury that I would like to stay and finish out the rest of my degree here.

Toby: What is it about Albury that you love?

Jordan: Well I guess sort of is we complete the first couple of years of our study in Sydney and me and myself personally I come from a small rural town in the Hunter Valley and going from a  small country town to the big city was great. Lots of opportunities and fun, however, I’ve found myself sort of craving that sense of home and community and studying medicine let alone being in Sydney it just got a bit chaotic so moving down to Albury, it was a breath of fresh air that I kind of needed and I’m very passionate about wanting to pursue a career in rural medicine so it’s been a fantastic opportunity to see that.

Toby: What was it that led you towards medicine?

Jordan: Well growing up, I was always really fascinated with sort of how the body works and all the intricacies surrounding that. The key driver that kind of pushed me to want to spend the rest of my working life with wanting to in a position to help people. I experienced a personal health adversity growing up and being in a rural town, I sort of got to experience firsthand the struggles and challenges that people in those situations face. Obviously because rural healthcare in Australia has its own sets of challenges that we need to work towards ensuring equal healthcare for all Australians. And so going through that experience, it really motivated and inspired me to want to pursue a career in rural medicine and hopefully I’ll be able to do that in the future.

Toby: If you walked into any primary school – the grade 1 or 2 class – and you ask people what they want to be when they grow up, I’m sure a lot of people would say “I want to be a doctor.” That sounds like you were fascinated by that too. Now that you’re in there doing it, is it what you expected it to be?

Jordan: Yes and no. I think you go into medicine with one idea of what a doctor is and I suppose what type of doctor you want to be. As you get further and further along your degree, you are sort of faced with some of the realities that surround it like when we graduate, we face a whole other set of hurdles of not only getting into a job but also we need a certain amount of training positions for the areas that we want to work in and that’s I suppose another challenge that the rural health workforce in Australia faces. Yes it is interesting, there’s a whole host of factors that sort of come into reality of practicing medicine I suppose.

Toby: And after graduation, what type of medicine would you like to practice? Would you like to be a rural GP? Would you like to specialize and work in hospitals or private practice?

Jordan: That has been a really tricky question for me at this stage. I kind of really enjoy all aspects of my study but I do definitely know that I do want to work in the country. So at this stage I’m thinking rural generalism which is fantastic, it would allow me to sort of practice general practice and emergency care and sort of a few other components of specialists cares in the hospitals as well. So you basically get to do a whole host of different things while servicing rural and remote communities. So I think at this stage, that’s I’m going to be aiming for.

Toby: What do you see as the major differences between rural medicine and medicine in cities and more populated areas?

Jordan: Well I think it comes down to the resources and not only the physical ones but the people who make up the health workforces and services and ultimately that impact the health care that we’re able to provide the people. I think obviously we see the discrepancy between the numbers between sort of metropolitan and rural doctors, obviously we’ve got higher concentrated numbers of doctors in the cities and I think this comes down to when we graduate we’ve got to go into certain training positions and pathways and that’s the time of your life when for a lot of us we’re sort of meeting partners or settling down with families or establishing friendship networks and I suppose if that’s all happening in those metropolitan centers, it becomes harder and harder for them to move away into a rural area after that once you’ve established your life because ultimately you’re not going to want to work somewhere where you don’t enjoy living. So I think it’s really important that we’re sort of now realizing that and developing more sort of training options for junior doctors in rural areas so that we can establish  that sooner.

Toby: I’m really quite curiam when you were starting particularly when you’re in Sydney when you speak to your classmates, are many of them wanting to pursue a life in rural medicine or  they want to stick to the cities ?

Jordan: I guess again that’s a yes and no answer for that one. A lot of my friends personally are we’re all students and we do have similar ambitions to want to work in those sorts of areas but you do I suppose get people who for instance might have grown up in urban centres and might want to just work in those areas but I think the big thing is sort of what type of medicine you want to do. For example if say I was aiming to become a neuro-surgeon and that would be almost impossible to do that purely from a rural remote location just because the resources and the people to teach you those skills, they’re all urban based.

Toby: Do you think there are any incentives that can be put into a medical and health education, not just medical, to entice people to come to rural and regional areas?

Jordan: I think the biggest incentive is probably working towards helping people realize just how many fantastic opportunities that there actually are in these rural areas. I think more for the issue that we kind of face is sort of there is a negative perception surrounding rural health that you might not get those opportunities. I personally I have had a fantastic experience since starting to practice, doing my clinical training out in Albury. Last year I was one of eleven students here and we got to work one-on-one with the doctors and second assistant surgeries and do all sorts of amazing things whereas I would hear from my colleagues back in Sydney the staff in the urban city hospitals they didn’t have time for them or they felt like they missed out on a lot of opportunities. So there’s definitely a lot out here and it’s not just the education and training but also more so the lifestyle. I feel like rural living gives you the space to have fun for yourself as well as you work which I personally value a lot. So I think it’s brought out sort of just helping people realize that working out in rural areas is a fantastic thing.

Toby: Well one way you can do that is to tell people about it obviously and which is what the Rural Health Summit is all about in many ways. You’re the co convener of the summit, give us a little information. When is it? What should we expect from it?

Jordan: So like you mentioned, this year I’m convening the Australian Medical Students Association will help some it alongside my colleague Dayna Duncan. We’re both rural students and we’re a part of the team that organized the conference last year in Wollongong and we enjoyed the experience so much and saw there’s much potential in it to move it out to the rural areas such as Albury so we’ve been working on that. And our aim for the event is to sort of showcase the diverse and dynamic program of leaders in the field of rural medicine as well as some fantastic local doctors from the Albury community to inspire the people who are attending, to spark some conversations about rural health and also sort of facilitate networking and also help people realize the many opportunities that are available for them in the rural medical workforce and so what we really hope to inspire and immerse to our guests to their time in Albury, not only through sort of our academic program but also got of host fantastic social events on offer as well that are going to aim to show another side of the rural lifestyle.

Toby: Who are some of the speakers? What are some of the topics that you’re hoping to highlight in the summit?

Jordan: There’s a whole host of different things because we kind of want to again, the main aim is to showcase many opportunities. Something that we are really excited about is we have Professor Paul Worley, Australia’s National Health Commissioner attend and deliver a plenary on further training pathways and our role as students in the future of Australia’s rural health workforce but then we’ve also got a whole host of other different things. So we’ve got topics such as farmer’s health being delivered by Dr. Jacquie Cotton coming all the way from Western Australia, got sexual health, priorities in women’s health, medical culture. We’ve also got some panel discussions and innovative care in rural health, so it’s a whole host of interesting topics that sort of go past what you might traditionally perceive rural health to encompass. And as well we’ve also got a range of practical workshops for our delegates so they’ll actually get in hands-on skills that they can then hopefully take this in their own practice in the future.

Toby: Well sounds like you’ve got a lot of stuff covered. A lot of academic stuff, a lot of practical workshops and a little bit of fun and social events as well. What are some of the social events?

Jordan: So we’ve kind of wanted to show off as much as Albury as we could with our social events. So on the Friday night on the 28th of September, we’re hosting a ‘Welcome to Albury’ cocktail gala at the Murray Art Museum. This will be a fantastic way for delegates to be welcomed to Albury through immersing themselves in the cultural experience at the Museum, also being one of the biggest in the country. So that should be a really great way for our delegates to be able to network with our speakers and sponsors who are attending as well and hopefully maybe have that conversation that produces a change in the future of rural health. And then on the Saturday night we’re having a boot scooting bush dance at the Kinross Hotel in Albury and that’s a really cool 1800s styled woolshed so it’s during the classic rural dancing night. Think flannel, think hey, all our delegates just dancing the night away and relaxing. And then the following morning on the Sunday, we’re looking to host a lovely breakfast by the Murray River just because it’s probably one of my favorite spots in Albury and just a great way to sort of to see what’s around as well.

Toby: It sounds fantastic. Have you been practicing your boot scooting, your line dancing?

Jordan: I guess people wouldn’t have to come to find out about that one.

Toby: Alright. So we’re quickly running out of time but before we go, give us the dates and if people want to find out more, where can they find information?

Jordan:  Yes, so the summit is going to be held across the 28th to the 30th of September in Albury. If people are looking for more information you can find us on Facebook, or Twitter, or Instagram. The tag is just #AMSA_RHS18. Otherwise, we’ve also got a website that’s just and if you go to any of those those pages you’ll be able to access all of our information, timetables and ways to purchase tickets which close on August the 23rd.

Toby: Jordan, thank you so much for joining us today. I’ve really enjoyed chatting with you and best of luck for the summit.

Jordan: Thank you Toby, it was lovely chatting with you too.

Toby: Our pleasure. So if you’ve just joined us on Health Professional Radio and you’ve just missed my conversation with Jordan Vivian about the Australian Medical Students Association’s upcoming Rural Health Summit. All is not lost however because if you visit our website,  you’ll find this interview along with a full transcript and many more fascinating interviews with health professionals and experts from around the world. You can also find us on Facebook, YouTube, iTunes, SoundCloud, Instagram and TuneIn Radio. My name is Toby Longhurst and you’ve been listening to Health Professional Radio.

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