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Medical student enjoys ‘bush’ stay

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January 25, 2018

Berrigan Shire Mayor Matt Hannan and Sarah Winter-Irving.

Aspiring doctor Sarah Winter-Irving said she’ll return to Sydney with a better appreciation for rural GPs and nurses.

For the past two weeks Ms Winter-Irving, who is in her second year of study at Sydney University, has taken part in the Bush Bursary program, which is designed to attract doctors to rural towns.

The work placement combines aspects of country life and rural medicine.

Berrigan Shire Council and Berrigan Country Women’s Association have sponsored the placement.

During her time in the local area Ms Winter-Irving has worked at and toured hospitals, age care facilities and medical centres in Finley, Berrigan and Tocumwal.

The program also requires her to assist with home visits.

The medical student said her experience had been a ‘‘real eye-opener’’.

‘‘I’ve learned so much about what type of general practitioner you need to be.

‘‘The GPs out here are ‘Jack-of-all-trades’; one minute they’re dealing with a patient with a cold and then they might be needed to help deliver a baby.

‘‘The patients have been fantastic and really accepting of a medical student.

‘‘The doctors and nurses I’ve met have explained everything I need to know and helped me gain a better understanding of the rural health system.’’

Ms Winter-Irving is studying a Doctor of Medicine and has already completed an undergraduate in Law and Medical Science.

She said she would apply to do a year of study with Sydney University’s affiliate campuses in Lismore, Dubbo or Broken Hill.

‘‘I’m a country girl from way back,’’ she said.

‘‘I certainly would consider moving to the country to work as a doctor.

‘‘My ideal situation would be to live in urban towns like Albury or Wagga and still have access to working in rural communities.

‘‘There’s certainly a need for rural doctors and after seeing how everyone works together out here, it would be a pretty easy decision,’’ she said.

Berrigan Shire general manager Rowan Perkins said the medical facilities throughout the shire should be a drawcard for doctors.

‘‘We take great pride in what our shire has to offer, with medical facilities that surpass what is expected of such small communities.

‘‘We are fortunate to have such a personal rapport with our health services, with local people supporting our communities,’’ Mr Perkins said.

Ms Winter-Irving’s Bush Bursary placement finished on Friday.

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