Tuesday, 8 November 2016

John Flynn Placement Program and international students

As part of my work as a committee member of the Australian Medical Students’ Association (AMSA) Rural Health team, I had the privilege to speak to representatives from the Department of Health and the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine (ACRRM). Together with Skye Kinder, Co-Chair of AMSA Rural Health, we discussed the benefits of including international students in the John Flynn Placement Program (JFPP).

Promoting rural practice: Zee Lim (centre) and Skye Kinder (third from right) are advocating for John Flynn Placements to be opened to more international medical students.

The JFPP, funded by the Department of Health, aims to act as a catalyst to promote regional and rural health to all medical students, including those who do not come from a rural background. By providing such placement opportunities, the JFPP hopes to encourage future medical practitioners to work in rural Australia.

Personally, I am grateful that the School of Rural Health has allowed me to undertake a year-long clinical placement in Latrobe Regional Hospital, where I have thoroughly enjoyed my first clinical year. Furthermore, I appreciate the financial assistance given to us in the form of rural elective bursaries.

However, many universities do not provide such opportunities to international medical students, often excluding them not only from rural clinical allocations, but from elective bursaries as well. These students end up missing out on experiencing rural medicine, which is an integral portion of an Australian medical degree.

AMSA Rural Health conducted a nationwide online survey in 2016, where international medical students shared their opinions about rural health in Australia. The results were overwhelmingly positive. Out of 287 responses, 83% were interested in working in regional and rural Australia, while 88.8% were interested in the JFPP. This underscores the high level of interest international medical students have for rural and regional health.

Many positives came out of the discussion, with ACRRM acknowledging the benefits of international student involvement in the JFPP, and the Department of Health agreeing to continue discussions with the respective policy makers. I hope that the JFPP will be made available to future batches of international medical students in Australia.

Zee Lim, Year 3B student 2016

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