Monash University Rural Health Mentorship Program helping regional Mildura students to study medicine

When Saje Allen was a student at Mildura Senior College, she thought living in the area would make it too difficult to study medicine.

But after participating in a rural health mentorship program at Monash University, she found the support she needed.

Now, as a third-year medical student, she not only studies medicine in her hometown, but also mentors other young students through the same Med-Toring program that helped her.

“The Med-Toring program aims to introduce local students to the opportunity to study medicine in regional areas and to share information about pathways and programs to help them study medicine,” Ms. Allen said.

She said the Med-Toring program provides access to a variety of supports available to regional students interested in a health career; from studying closer to home, to tailor-made pathways, mentorship and accommodation.

Louise Hodgetts says giving medical students the opportunity to study in the regions can help address labor shortages.

Louise Hodgetts is program coordinator at Monash School of Rural Health in Mildura, one of eight clinical teaching sites in Victoria that aim to improve regional training and career opportunities for young doctors.

A student administers a cob pen to a dummy patient during a simulation
High school students experience the treatment of a patient in the simulation lab at Monash Rural Health.

While the goal is to increase access for regional students to medical careers, it also encourages urban students to experience rural internships.

A report of students receiving clinical experience at regional hospitals showed that rural placements increased the likelihood of a doctor practicing in rural areas during their early postgraduate years.

The research also found that rural students were more likely to continue practicing in rural areas for more than eight years after graduation.

“Now I have a way”

Ella Pettigrew participated in her first Monash Rural Health mentorship program this week with other high school students from across Sunraysia.

Smiling dark-haired girl wearing a dark green knitted sweater and a stethoscope around her neck.
Grade 10 student Ella Pettigrew from Irymple Secondary College has her sights set on medicine.

She was able to meet medical students and experience hands-on care for a patient in the simulation training room.

She said experiencing what it was like to be in the regional clinical school classroom and meeting other students who had achieved their goal of studying medicine gave her more confidence.

The paramedic smiles at the student
The students met paramedics who showed them around an ambulance.

We need to do more

Saje Allen said that while the Monash Rural Health School has enabled her to achieve her goals, more needs to be done to create specialized training in regional areas.

A young woman with her hair in a tight bun smiles at the camera, dressed in a blue sweater, standing in front of a yellow wall.
Saje Allen says she is “living proof” that supporting students in the area will see more of them go on to study medicine.

Her hope is to one day practice pediatric surgery or emergency medicine, possibly in the regions.

“One day I really hope to return to a rural setting because that’s where I grew up and where I call home,” she said.

“I hope to see where life takes me and practice medicine as I go.”

About Georgia Duvall

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