Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Clinical skills showcases in Latrobe Valley

Efforts to showcase rural living and learning to a group of Monash medical students over a recent weekend in Traralgon were well rewarded.

Monash University’s Rural and Indigenous Health Club, WILDFIRE, initiated a clinical skills weekend at the Monash School of Rural Health's Latrobe Valley site at Latrobe Regional Hospital, for 30 medical students.

The student group included those enrolled in the metropolitan based Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) and graduate entry students based at the School of Rural Health in Churchill.

Students learning aseptic technique
and cannulation
WILDFIRE’s Gippsland President, third year medical student Lisa Guion, said this was the first time the student-led cub had initiated a clinical skills weekend in the Latrobe Valley, with previous events being run by the School of Rural Health East Gippsland and Bendigo.

Held over two days, the event showcased the benefits of living and studying medicine in a regional or rural setting, while exposing metropolitan students to local Monash School of Rural Health facilities and clinical settings.

The recent WILDFIRE South East Clinical Skills Weekend included a trip to the Tyers lookout, where Ms Guion said the students had an opportunity to observe the impact of industry and natural disaster in the Latrobe Valley.

Social activities were also incorporated into the weekend but, critically, students participated in skills-based learning across five stations of rotating activities, covering laparoscopic simulation, cannulation, obstetrics scenarios, trauma cases and airway management on Saturday.

Monash medical students learn to suture,
using donated pigs trotters,
Ms Guion said a comprehensive two-hour suturing workshop, using pigs’ trotters donated by a local butcher, was facilitated by local GP Dr Michael Kunze and assisted by students based at Traralgon and Warragul.

“It was so important for these students to see how our clinical settings operate and to understand the benefits of the near-peer teaching that happens here, where the student to consultant ratios are often so much better than in metropolitan areas,” she said.

Ms Guion said a dinner held at Century Inn on the Saturday night surpassed her own expectations, with high levels of interaction between students and guest speakers, including Breed Street GP and obstetrician Dr Brougham, LRH intern and former Monash medical student Dr Mitchell Kraan, fifth year student Ms Kym Clemence and Dr Matthew Carroll who is a researcher with the Monash-led Hazelwood Mine Fire Health Study.

School of Rural Health Latrobe Valley & West Gippsland Director Associate Professor Joseph Tam said it was pleasing to have so many local professionals dedicate their time to contribute to the clinical skills weekend.

“These sorts of initiatives are underpinned by the goal of encouraging the long term commitment of medical practitioners to living and working in rural and regional areas.

“Ultimately, developing a sustainable rural health workforce is in the best interests of all of us and WILDFIRE is to be commended on the work it does to contribute to this outcome,” said Associate Professor Tam.

Ms Guion said feedback from students who participated in the recent weekend had been positive, with some students already indicating their interest in studying in Gippsland.

The event was partially sponsored by Medical Indemnity Protection Society (MIPS) and Southern GP Training.

Monash medical students gathered in the Latrobe Valley for a recent clinical skills weekend.


Tuesday, 18 August 2015

Medical students orchestra plays Churchill

The Monash Medical Students Orchestra plays outside Melbourne for the first time on 22 August. Photo: FreeImages.com/John Siebert.
Members of the Monash Medical Students Orchestra have their final rehearsal this week in preparation for a concert of classical and contemporary music at Churchill this Saturday 22 August.

This will be the first time the orchestra has performed in regional Victoria with the concert at Federation University Churchill’s auditorium a collaboration between Federation University and Monash University School of Rural Health.

According to orchestra co-chair, Charlotte O’Leary, the orchestra members are “excited” about the visit.

“We have two major concerts a year and start rehearsing weekly for two months prior to the event,” Charlotte said.

The concert will be of special significance to fellow chair and student Tim Harkins, whose grandmother from Sale, unable to travel to Melbourne, will see him perform for the first time in some years.

Tim plays the viola and Charlotte the cello.

Charlotte said many university students found having outside interests, such as music or sport, helped balance their life.

She was performing in a string quartet at the recent Monash University Open Day and was approached by a prospective student trying to decide between studying medicine and music.

“We told her you can study medicine and play music part-time but you can’t study music and do medicine part-time,” she added. “We all felt we have the best of both worlds.”

The orchestra’s conductor is music graduate Robert Dora. “It is a full symphonic orchestra,” Charlotte said. “Robert puts the program together with input from the students.”

The program will feature a mixture of classical and contemporary orchestral music. The classical repertoire will be selected from the romantic Third Movement of Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, Bartok's Romanian Dances and Berlioz's dramatic Hungarian March

Some of the lighter and more well known music will include the theme song from Angry Birds, Les Miserables and Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. There may even be some extra percussion in the form of a typewriter!

There will also be performances from the orchestra's smaller ensembles, including a traditional Chinese stringed instrument.

The orchestra numbers 75, however between 45 and 50 medical students will perform at the Churchill concert from 5-7pm on Saturday, August 22. Earlier in the day, the orchestra will welcome residents from Hazelwood House in Churchill to rehearsal.

Entry is a gold coin donation however bookings are necessary through sarah.j.russell@monash.edu or 5122 7445.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Laptop donations make a difference

The clients of numerous community based organisations across wider Gippsland have benefited from the donation of laptops from the Monash University School of Rural Health.

The agencies form a vital part of the school's Community Based Practice  program, run from its Churchill site. Each year agencies who provide care for disadvantaged people in the Gippsland community host medical students as part of a four day rural-based Community Based Practice placement.

Monash School of Rural Health students Megan and Andrew  present
Moe Lifeskills Community Centre students Justin and John with donated laptops.

School of Rural Health Churchill Director, Associate Professor Shane Bullock, said the school greatly valued the contribution of Gippsland agencies, including specialist development schools and other disability support services, to the educational experience of Monash medical students.

“When the students undertake these placements they have a valuable opportunity to observe the outstanding skills of multi-disciplinary teams in a community setting and they are able to contribute to the work of the agency,” Associate Professor Bullock said.

“Understanding the nature of this work, and empathising with it, stands students in good stead on their path to becoming effective healthcare professionals. They come to recognise that these agencies offer valuable services to which they can refer their patients.”

So when an opportunity arose to help these agencies, which all too often deliver their services on tight budgets, the School of Rural Health Churchill was eager to take advantage of it.

Upon the conclusion of a former laptop loan scheme for students, more than 100 laptops have been returned to the School of Rural Health since 2013. Keen to see the HP Elitebook devices put to good use, School of Rural Health Churchill re-imaged them and donated them to multiple Community Based Practice agencies.

The laptops, the final 45 of which were distributed in recent weeks, have been welcomed by agencies including Moe Lifeskills, the George Gray Centre in Maffra, Headway, Quantum, the Heyfield Resource Centre, Baringa School, Cooinda Hill, the Latrobe Special Development School, the South Gippsland Specialist School and some of Gippsland’s councils.

Moe Lifeskills Community Centre Chief Executive Officer Dr Carole Broxham said it was well documented that computer technology and the internet had a “tremendous potential to broaden the lives and increase the independence of people with disabilities.”

Dr Boxham said it was unfortunate that those benefits were “a long way off being realised for some people”, with statistics showing access to a computer at home, and to the internet, was lower for people with disabilities that for the general population.

“The donation of laptops from the School of the Rural Health helps us to address this issue,” she said. “We provide computer training to learners with disabilities and this has meant we are now in a position to loan laptops to students to use at home…this supports them to achieve their learning outcomes and increase their skills and confidence.”

Baringa School Whole School Coordinator Ann-Marie Ernst said the three laptops her school had received were being used to support students’ learning in the classroom and made it easier for staff to support students with fine motor skills to complete tasks.

Cooinda Hill Manager, Support Services Rebecca Massaro said the donation to her service, which provides support to adults living with a disability, had provided clients with “greater access to technology on the move”.

Sale Specialist School Principal Shelagh Donegan said the donated laptops were a “welcome and valuable asset” to the students at her school.

“Some students are experienced users while others are just learning how to access and use computers but these laptops are in good condition, run well and are able to run software specifically for special needs students,” she said.

Ms Doneghan said the extra had also simplified access for students in wheelchairs as they could now use a computer at any desk in the class room.

Headway Gippsland Inc General Manager Jenelle Henry said the laptops were being used to help Headway’s client group develop their social media and internet skills, with the assistance of a program co-ordinator, as part of its social and recreational programs.