Learning from our outback lands

young man smiles at camera with arms folded

A rural placement in a remote community in Queensland proved to be a rich learning and cultural experience for medical student Joshua Sheehy.

As part of his third year placement, Sheehy went three hours north-west of Brisbane to Cherbourg – a community with only 1200 people.

He came away with significant respect for the opportunities that come from practising medicine in remote locations.

“Cherbourg has one main road and you can drive across town in two minutes; but for a community of its size, the health presence and hospital is quite significant,” Sheehy says.

“There is an emergency department, wards and a GP centre at the hospital, as well as a Women’s and Children’s Clinic, and a Mental Health Clinic next door.”

Working in the Cherbourg community offered Sheehy new opportunities from a medical perspective.

“I got to work on the Deadly Ears ENT clinic and I had an opportunity to intubate a child. I undertook initial consultations with patients and performed suturing and incisions.

“Working in Cherbourg gave me real-life insight into the cultural aspects of healthcare in an Aboriginal community.

“The elders I spoke to helped me understand that women’s business and men’s business is separate, and I would have to take that into account and adapt some of my work to suit the cultural context.”

Sheehy says that his time in Cherbourg helped him realise that rural experiences can add new layers of depth to medical training.

“In Cherbourg, I was in situations that required me to step up and do more decision-making than I have before, and that has been really beneficial.”

To support rural scholarships, contact med.advancement@uq.edu.au or call 07 3365 5075.

Indigenous Australian artwork
Indigenous Australian artwork

This story is featured in the Winter 2019 edition of UQMedicine Magazine. View the latest edition here. Or to listen, watch, or read more stories from UQ’s Faculty of Medicine, visit our blog, MayneStream.