Monday, 3 April 2017

Coming home to Mildura to study medicine

After two years studying in Clayton, Tanzina Kazi is rediscovering a different Mildura to the one she grew up in. Tanzina is one of 14 Monash medical students undertaking their first year of clinical training at Monash Rural Health Mildura.

Tanzina Kazi is enjoying her first year of clinical training in Mildura

“We’re a very tight-knit group, which is a big positive,” said Tanzina. “We do a lot together.” Exploring local markets, picnic spots, Orange World and local restaurants, her fellow students look to her to act as tour guide. “We have a really, really good food culture in Mildura, so we do a lot of eating” she laughed.

Mildura is a long way from Tanzina’s birthplace, Bangladesh. Her parents left for Melbourne when she was six months old, so she doesn’t remember it then. But a trip back to visit family when she was seven made a deep impression on her. “There’s a lot of poverty in Bangladesh. Everywhere you go, you see people who are living on the streets. A few of those people just stuck in my mind. That’s when I decided that in my future I want to do something where I’m helping people,” she said.

She was also well aware of the issues people outside Melbourne face trying to access health services. A couple of years after arriving in Australia, Tanzina and her family moved to Mildura. Over the years, both her parents have had health problems. She remembers that her mother had to travel to Melbourne for an MRI as they weren’t available in Mildura at the time.

Deciding on a career in medicine was a gradual process influenced by that early trip, her parents’ experiences and her enjoyment of biology. “When I went into medicine I wanted to be a GP. I like the idea of being able to track someone’s medical process from when they’re a child to when they’re an adult,” she said. “But now I’m not sure what I’d like to specialise in.” That decision is some way off yet and her clinical training will expose her to a variety of specialties, but she would like to come back to a rural area to do her internship when she graduates.

She’s not the first in her family to choose to study medicine: her brother is currently studying medicine in Queensland. “Unfortunately he’s beaten me to the punch and he’ll be the first doctor in the family, although my Dad’s got a PhD so technically he’s the first doctor” she joked.

Tanzina, on the other hand, was well aware of the Extended Rural Cohort stream in Monash’s medicine degree by the time she was applying for a place in a medical course. “Monash does a really good job in Mildura: they invite the year 11 and 12 students over to the School of Rural Health and do a few workshops and an information night,” she said. “And all the medicine students that I talked to before I started doing medicine were ERC students. They all just raved about how good ERC is and how much they get to do compared to their city friends. And I thought, well if I get to do a lot and I get to be back home for a year, then why not? So it was my first preference.”

She agrees studying medicine in Mildura is a great experience and comments on how well the staff look after the students. “We feel we have a really good connection with them. The other day it was someone’s birthday and Kris [Pinney] baked them a cake. It’s a great community feeling here.”

After two years’ foundation studies at Clayton, Tanzina is enjoying the hands-on learning in Mildura. “It was a difference experience and I did enjoy it. I was staying at college so I got to meet a lot of new people. But, at the same time, it was just sitting in lecture theatres for lots of hours during the week. And when I compare it to what I’m doing now in Mildura, I’d much rather be here than sitting in lecture theatres.”

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