Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Graduate trains to practise in Bendigo

If you’d told Kerry Jewell in 2008 that less than ten years later she and three of her fellow dorm mates at Farrer Hall student residence would be responsible for a large chunk of the admissions to Bendigo Hospital, she wouldn’t have believed you. Yet that’s exactly where this Monash graduate finds herself.

Monash graduate, Dr Kerry Jewell, would love to settle in Bendigo once she finishes her specialist training.

Now a medical registrar with Bendigo Health (on rotation from Austin Health), and in her second year of training to be a physician, Kerry has had a long affair with Bendigo. So she’d like to stay, but the realities of specialist training make that challenging.

Originally from Wodonga, Kerry’s first contact with Monash in Bendigo was when her father drove her to the application interview in 2007. “We ended up lost as I was reading the map and was so nervous,” she remembered.

The next two years were spent in Clayton before she headed north again to spend most of her clinical training in Bendigo and north-west Victoria. Then she faced a dilemma in deciding where to do her internship. In the end she opted for the familiar setting of Bendigo Hospital.

“There’s a lot to worry about when you start an internship; it’s more than just having rote learned knowledge and clinical skills,” she said. “So it was reassuring doing internship in a place where you didn’t also have to worry about how to get to the wards, or radiology, or who to talk to.”

Kerry is convinced that students in regional settings become ingrained in a team and feel that they’re more than just students.

“You get really good at bread and butter general medicine and surgery presentations, which is what you’ll see when you practise,” she said.

Beyond a grounding in essential clinical skills, regional placements have much more of a community atmosphere than metropolitan placements.

“You’re living and breathing medicine – at work, at tutes – you’re together more often. It’s hard to be isolated because everyone is looking out for one another. They’re tough years to go through, so having a big support group is great,” she said.

While she’d prefer to settle in Bendigo, Kerry can only do a limited part of her physician’s training at Bendigo Hospital. The Royal Australian College of Physicians requires time in a tertiary hospital to ensure trainees see specialities they would not be exposed to in a regional hospital. So that means training in Melbourne.

“Ideally, I would have loved to stay in Bendigo for all my training,” said Kerry.

“If prospective physicians candidates could do the majority of their training in the new Bendigo Hospital when it opens that would open up a lot of opportunities for candidates who would prefer to be regionally based.

“Even if you could do two or three years here and trade with another hospital…but I’m not sure if that’s realistic in the next five to ten years.”

For the moment, Kerry is happy completing her first rotation as a medical registrar with Bendigo Hospital. “I can’t think of anywhere more appropriate to do it. I’m working with the same team I was as an intern, which is really nice, but possibly a little scary for the consultants who taught me as a first-year clinical student!”

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