CQU welcomes new cohort of doctors-in-training

01 March 2023

CQUniversity will welcome 34 new medical students to Central Queensland and Wide Bay this week as the second cohort of the Regional Medical Pathway (RMP) program are presented with their stethoscopes and begin their studies in Rockhampton and Bundaberg.

These students will be commencing in the Bachelor of Medical Science (Pathway to Medicine) course at CQUniversity which will enable students to continue into the Doctor of Medicine course at University of Queensland.

The RMP program is a partnership between CQUniversity, University of Queensland (UQ), and the Central Queensland and Wide Bay Hospital and Health Services.

CQUniversity Head of Course Associate Professor Sonia Saluja said the RMP had grown into more than a medical educational pathway.

“The RMP program has evolved into a wonderful community of educators, mentors, clinicians, and advocates committed to improving regional, rural, and remote health outcomes,” she said.

“A key feature of the course is the observational placements that the students attend in their first year. The placements provide the students with significant community linkage and integration within a broad variety of health provider domains in the regions.

“Last year, students spent time in the CQ and Wide Bay Hospital and Health Service and with other health providers. Some of the community placements included pharmacies, aged care facilities, physiotherapists, and psychologists.

“The placement opportunities provided the students with an immersive observational learning experience, where they gained an understanding of the bigger picture of health care delivery within regional communities.”

This week community and industry stakeholders welcomed the new cohort of first-year medical students at special events in Rockhampton and Bundaberg during the University’s orientation week.

One fresh-faced doctor-in-training, 18-year-old from Bundaberg Hannah Earl was excited to begin her studies in a regional area where she one day could contribute to the health and wellbeing of its community.

“I feel that establishing a strong health workforce in regional and rural settings is incredibly important; a person’s location should in no way lessen the quality of healthcare that they have access to,” she explained.

“I feel that everyone should have an equal chance of living a healthy life no matter where they live, and therefore believe that increasing the number of medical professionals working in these settings – through programs such as the Regional Medical Pathway – is vital to improving health outcomes for these communities.”

Hannah was inspired at an early age to study medicine after a medical team saved her grandfather’s life.

“When I was very young, an amazing healthcare team operated on my granddad after an aortic dissection. I have always thought it incredible that their knowledge and skill allowed them to save his life and give him the gift of more time with his family.”

Having lived in rural areas herself, Hannah felt drawn to the RMP.

“I felt that the RMP would provide fantastic opportunities to be exposed to rural medicine and the diverse needs of remote communities.”

Another Bundaberg local Christian Lane-Krebs is also eager to kick-start his career in medicine at CQUniversity, having already studied a few courses at the University through the Start Uni Now program (SUN) while still in school and now enrolled in the RMP.

Despite living with a disability and a complex medical condition himself, Christian is eager to give back to the profession that saved his life nearly 18 years ago and to the community he has grown up in.

“As a person with a disability and complex medical condition, I have experienced the positives and negatives of regional health systems including the necessity of regular travel to metropolitan areas for treatment,” he explained.

“My lived experience has identified a discrepancy between rural/remote and metropolitan medicine. This is the defining reason for my pursuit of becoming a medical practitioner.

“Additionally, being a person who experienced traumatic birth events, I would also say that a couple of my initial treating doctors, such as Dr Judy Williams, who is the hero that saved my life, have shown me the impact that medical practitioners can have on a person’s life.”

Christian is definitely defying the odds after being diagnosed with cerebral palsy at the age of two, experiencing an intra-hepatic bleed due to birth trauma, and being hearing impaired.

“I have often felt like an outcast in many social situations, especially within my younger years, as I was worried if people were only seeing me as a person living with a disability.

“However, through this adversity I have been able to overcome the setbacks and am now in a place where I can use my platform to help those experiencing a similar situation.”

New to Rockhampton,18-year-old Xinyu Liu from Wollongong was also excited to begin his studies in the Central Queensland region and make an impact on regional and rural health.

“Regional and rural communities have continually experienced lower accessibility to healthcare services. That’s why I believe it is very important to work in such areas to address the issues facing regional healthcare,” explained Xinyu.

“Training and working in such settings is also important as it allows medical professionals in training to gain valuable insight into the specific needs and circumstances of such communities, allowing them to deliver a more holistic approach in their patient care.”

Growing up Xinyu always liked science and during high school developed an interest in infectious diseases and other medical conditions and wanted to gain a deeper understanding of them by studying medicine.

“I think it is amazing how doctors can have such a direct and positive impact on the wellbeing of their patients, and I wish to also contribute to improving the health of the community in the future.”

Memories of hospital visits with his grandparents, helping to translate for them to the health professionals, have also provided inspiration for Xinyu.

“I saw that their doctors were incredibly patient and professional, and always tried their best to address all of the concerns they had.

“It was great to see their health improve greatly from the treatments, management plans and advice. This made me consider medicine as a potential path as it showed me how medical professionals can make a difference in people’s lives, in terms of both their physical and mental health.” 

CQUniversity’s Bachelor of Medical Science (Pathway to Medicine) is a three-year course which enables students to continue into UQ’s four-year Doctor of Medicine course.

Both courses are studied in Rockhampton and Bundaberg, producing doctors who are far more likely to stay and work in rural and regional Queensland.