I’m sitting here writing this reflection following my final ever medical school examinations. I think back to when I applied for the ACEN scholarship. I can identify how much I have grown and developed both personally and professionally since that time.
My rural WIL placement was at Dalby Hospital. I spent 6 months immersed in the Darling Downs cattle town and the healthcare system there. I rented a room and lived in town, I made friends, I went to trivia every Tuesday night, I did 50 hours a week at the hospital, I spent time in theatre, in the emergency department and on the wards. Doing this for 6 months has forced me to grow exponentially in a way that I didn’t think was possible. When I was writing my application for the ACEN WIL scholarship, I detailed my reasons for doing a rural work integrated learning placement. At the time, I was not ready to work as a doctor, I still felt incompetent and uncomfortable. One very motivating aspect for pursuing this placement was the fear of never feeling prepared to start – I knew I could not let that fear of inadequacy paralyse me into inaction, so I decided to do this placement promising myself to throw myself at every challenge and new experience that came my way.
In particular, my critical thinking ability in a clinical setting has evolved. I had a patient come through the emergency department last week with a variety of symptoms. I was able to consider the patients presentation, consider whether it fitted a “typical” pattern of disease process, reason as to what other causes could be underlying, order my own investigations for her to rule out pathology, and begin basic management . This problem solving and step-wise decision making is a completely new skill that I did not have before my time at the rural hospital. It is the development of this skill which reassures me that I am ready to progress in my career and leave behind my days as a medical student.
I have just accepted a position next year as a medical intern on the Gold Coast, and I can honestly say that I now feel ready. I attribute this entirely to my placement experience. I have grown into what (I hope) is a competent, confident and safe junior doctor – and I will take all the skills I have honed in the last 6 months back to the Gold Coast next year and continue to develop my practice as a clinician. My workplace skills, practical skills, critical thinking, and interpersonal abilities have flourished as a result of being out here.
Getting to this point would not have been possible without the support of the ACEN scholarship. Leaving the Gold Coast to pursue this placement meant leaving my part-time job, my family and my partner. Thanks to the generous support of ACEN, I didn’t have to worry about my financial situation, and was able to rent a little flat and pay my bills; I would not have been able to afford this experience (which was so rich in outcome) otherwise.