Flinders, Global Leader In Sustainable Medical Education
First Published: Investigator - August 2009
Medical schools around the world are adopting the Flinders University School of Medicine agenda to encourage more students to work in medically under-served communities on graduation.
Like most countries, Australia still has a noticeable difference between the health services provided in cities and rural and remote areas.
“The more remote the area, the lower the proportion of doctors in relation to the population,” said Professor Paul Worley, Dean of the School of Medicine.
To address this disparity, Flinders established the Parallel Rural Community Curriculum (PRCC) in 1997 to place students in under-served areas for a year of their training.
Research is showing that these students are faced with a wider degree of health problems, end up with a more rounded education, and that more go on to work in under-served locations in comparison to peers trained in urban areas.
Professor Worley said this new approach to medical training is encouraging students to be more self-sufficient and compassionate, working in environments where they often spend time with their patients socially as well as professionally.
To illustrate the success of the Flinders model he tells the story of a graduate who spent a year in remote Sudan. The graduate (who prefers to remain anonymous) was one day faced with a patient who had lost a dangerous amount of blood. Realising her own blood would be the only source that was definitely free of HIV, she rolled up her sleeve and tapped her own vein to save her patient’s life.
“She now works for the Royal Flying Doctors, and it is exactly these qualities of intelligence, skill, compassion and courage that we are trying to instil in the next generation of graduates,” he said.
10 of Australia’s top universities have already followed Flinders’s hands-on approach and in 2008 the Global Health Education Consortium invited Flinders to share its successful model with like-minded schools from around the world.