|Dr David Iser presents Tom Ponsonby with the 2016 Rural Engagement Award|
The 28-year-old South Gippsland-based student, who is part of Monash’s graduate entry medicine course, has spent his second year of clinical training with Monash Rural Health in Leongatha.
He was recently announced the recipient of the school’s 2016 Rural Engagement Award (REA) after being nominated by academic coordinators and professional staff.
“This is a great way to publicly recognise and celebrate a student who has made an extraordinary contribution to rural engagement in the community,” said MRH East & South Gippsland academic coordinator Jennie Casey.
Tom was awarded a medallion, certificate and $200 as part of the initiative which commenced last year for MRH East & South Gippsland students.
The keen student, who grew up in Tasmania, has made his mark in South Gippsland across diverse settings. He has visited the local secondary college to talk with year nine to 12 students about careers in health and pathways into medicine and participated in health promotion activities run by the Leongatha hospital including a women’s health night run by the community health centre.
As a trainer for the Foster Football Club, Tom has also immersed himself in the South Gippsland sporting community, attending weekly training sessions and games at the club where he said he was made “very welcome”.
“Tom has also become part of the Foster Medical Centre team,” said Ms Casey. “He has readily integrated into all aspects of the practice, not only in the clinical setting but he has often been seen on study days helping out at the front desk.”
“Winning the award means a lot to me,” said Tom, “especially knowing the genuine commitment and enthusiasm the Monash Rural Health South Gippsland team has for rural health and educating future doctors in this region.”
“I've had a fantastic year in Foster, been taught by doctors who I really admire and been given many opportunities to develop and apply my medical skills.”
Tom said staff at MRH South Gippsland, the Foster Medical Clinic and the South Gippsland Hospital had all taken him under their wing and patients had been “kind enough to see the student doctor.”
“The real prize I've received for rural engagement this year has been getting to know the people and get involved in the community, and I hope to be back in the future,” he added.