Rural Student Experience: Learning outside the classroom

The University of Queensland’s Rural Clinical School (UQRCS)’s inaugural Immersion Program is inspiring medical students by putting them inside the communities they could one day support.

In 2023, first year medical students completed a four day ‘immersion’ tour to experience the charms and challenges of rural and remote living. 

Part of the new Doctor of Medicine curriculum, the Immersion Program gives 100 Year 1 students an opportunity to learn outside of the classroom and integrate into rural and remote communities in the Central Queensland, Wide Bay Burnett, Darling Downs and South West regions. 

Regional Medical Student, Brayden said that although he is from a rural background, the Immersion Program strengthened his desire to become a rural doctor. 

 “[Going into the bush] hasn’t so much changed my perception of rural health, but it's definitely made my perception stronger and reaffirmed the fact that I want to practice rural,” he said. 

“We need more rural doctors and the community bonds that you create are just amazing. I was born and raised rurally. And just to have the community feel and see all the clinical medicine out there, all the GPs, all the hospital doctors, I just knew pretty much from that experience that I wanted to continue that and give back rurally.”

Fellow first year student, Jill said the Immersion Program was truly inspiring. 

“Having exposure to a rural community, and seeing and experiencing the community support and the whole community coming together to make the program really special for us, that was really inspiring,” Jill said.

“I think they're punching above their weight in terms of services and quality of service, and that was something that I think I could aspire to in rural medicine.”

Mayne Academy of Rural and Remote Medicine Head, Professor Bruce Chater OAM said the Year 1 immersion was an exciting and eye-opening experience for students. 

“You cannot be what you cannot see, and so it's important for all students to have opportunities where they can experience the diversity of what it’s like to work in a rural practice and see first-hand the wonderful attributes of living in smaller communities,” Professor Chater said. 

By providing students rigorous clinical training built upon hands-on experiences and valuable exposure in hospitals and community-based practice, we provide our students the unique opportunity to gain experience, work, and taste life in the bush. 

Research shows that early introduction to rural medicine and repeat exposure to rural placements positively influences a student’s intention to enter the rural workforce. 

Support UQ medical students interested in pursuing a career in rural medicine


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