|Ali Groves cried when told she was heading to Sale for her placement this year.|
I had grown up in Western Victoria and although I absolutely loved living in Hamilton, I had well and truly grown out of the place by the time I was heading off to university. I began my medical degree with intentions of being a rural practitioner. I had always loved the rural lifestyle and although I had intentions to train in Melbourne, I wanted to return to the relaxed environment of the country later in life. That plan changed pretty quickly. I fell in love with Melbourne. My life was in Melbourne now. It was where my friends were, close to Chadstone shopping centre and there was always something to do. I loved it and never wanted to leave. Then I got moved to Sale.
Reluctantly, I packed my car and made the trip across Victoria, further east than I had ever been, 514 kilometres from Hamilton and 215 kilometres from Melbourne. And since this day I have not looked back. I am writing this, so embarrassed that I ever thought moving to Sale was the end of the world. In fact, it is somewhere I would strongly consider living in the future.
Sale has an integrated program in fourth year, which involves swapping and changing between GP, women’s health, paediatrics and psychiatry on a weekly and even daily basis. Although I was initially hesitant about the lack of structure, it has been wonderful now that the year is coming to a close to be constantly revising all topics in the lead up to exams.
At the GP practices in Sale, unlike some of the metro clinics, we have our own patient lists and consulting rooms. This has been particularly beneficial for learning both real life skills and those we need for the exams and OSCEs. For our other rotations, we have one-on-one time with the registrars and consultants, which is unheard of. We even have four paediatricians for the eight students here! Furthermore, it is these consultants that we are working with every day that provide us with tutorials. Therefore, they are always of the highest quality and the relationships we build with the doctors will be beneficial for years to come.
Socially, living in Sale has been fantastic. I go involved with the local football-netball club the first week we arrived in Sale and this has been a fantastic outlet from medical student life. There are also so many great bike trails and day-trips around the area, which keep the weekends really interesting. I had made more friendships with nursing staff and interns in the first week of going to Thursday night trivia in Sale than I had in a whole year in Melbourne in 2015! This is another aspect of studying in a small town that makes it so wonderful. The lifestyle in general is very relaxed; with each morning consisting of either a 5-minute walk to the hospital or a 5-minute drive to the GP clinic where you never have to sit in traffic!
I could not recommend studying rurally in third and fourth year more highly. It has been a wonderful experience that has completely changed my perspective on being a rural doctor and will strongly influence where I practice in the future.