Past TREES Experiences

Past TREE Scholars have had the opportunity to:

  • Be mentored by Rural Generalists, Rural GP’s and nursing and allied health staff in rural hospitals and medical centres.
  • Become a part of the medical team; from perfecting the art of history taking and improving procedural skills through to learning the keys to diagnosis and management of common conditions. Develop confidence in the application of these new found skills.
  • Explore the local sites, guided by hosts or colleagues

Below are some reports from TREE scholars over the past couple of years.

Laura O’Grady – Goondir Medical Services (Dalby and Oakey)

My placement at Goondir was an incredible learning experience for me. Whilst I of course gained plenty of experience in terms of medical theory and clinical skills, the main learning that I took away from this placement was a deeper understanding of the barriers to health in Indigenous and rural communities.

During my time with Goondir I was lucky enough to sit in on a wide range of consultations with patients, including seeing consults with podiatrists, nurses, pharmacists and smoking cessation specialists. The patients were all very happy for me to be in the room and asking questions, and it was so valuable to be able to follow a single patient through their many different appointments for the day. The staff at Goondir were lovely and welcoming and allowed me to get involved with patients by taking histories and performing exams when necessary – they also were so happy to provide advice and answer my questions about living and working rurally and in Aboriginal medical Services.

 A highlight of my time at Goondir was spending two days on the Mobile Medical Clinic (MMC), where we took a van out to Tara and then Chinchilla and spent the days seeing patients who lived in these towns and didn’t have regular access to a GP. This was amazing as I’d never been anywhere west of Brisbane before the trip and so to get to see so many places whilst on a two-week placement was pretty incredible. Whilst on the MMC I was lucky enough to be given the chance to talk to patients one on one before they entered the clinic and so I learnt so much about the lives of the residents and the challenges faced with accessing health care. 

Imogen Masters – Emerald

During my TREES placement, I was rotated between two GP clinics in Emerald. Sitting in on  consultations with different doctors was such a valuable experience! It was really interesting to  observe how they communicated with their patients. Throughout the placement, we were able to  take histories, perform examinations, look at ECGs, take blood pressures etc. At the skin cancer  clinic, we were lucky enough to watch a variety of procedures. The doctor even gave us a go at  suturing! I managed not to severely injure any patients, so I call that a win. 

On the weekend, we headed to Carnarvon Gorge for a weekend of hiking, waterhole hunting and  wildlife spotting. The gorge was absolutely magnificent and the view at the top was well worth the  blood, sweat and tears. In our last week, we made sure to experience the highlights of Emerald  including the Maraboon Tavern, the Irish Village Pub and the Twilight Markets. Very grateful for this experience! 

Jack Kelso-Ribbe – Beaudesert

What a way to cap off first year medicine! In Beaudesert, I adopted a rotational placement that centred on the Emergency Department.  Additionally, I spent time in wards, outpatient clinics, obstetrics, surgery, radiography and  one evening with the local station of the Queensland Ambulance Service. The preceptor facilitated initial introductions and rostering of rotations, however from then on it was up to  me to make moves to introduce myself to staff in various locations. Despite this being  daunting at first, the easy going, friendly and welcoming nature that is so fabled in rural  Australia had been distilled and generously distributed amongst staff and patients. Wherever  I went, everyone was open, eager and willing to share their knowledge and experiences. 

My very first day started in Emergency and within an hour I had seen a suspected  subarachnoid haemorrhage, a cardiac arrest and a suspected heart attack. The retrieval  team from Princess Alexandra Hospital had been called and within the hour, there was a  helicopter thundering overhead. Of my total 2 weeks I spent approximately 6 days in ED and  the pace pretty much remained constant. CBL cases became real life and I was able to  assist in suturing, taking blood, delivering fluids and conducting examinations. Interpreting  ECG’s and xrays, knowing GIT, cardio and resp exams, coupled with succinct yet detailed  histories and ISBAR handovers are my preparation recommendations for any prospective ‘Observershipee’. Last but not least a recommendation goes out to visit the hospital canteen,  which was awarded ‘The Best Sandwich in the Whole of Metro South’ for 2017! The quality  has not dropped and as important as being involved in the action is, it was important to take  a break and refuel. 

I was fortunate to have had the opportunity to attend a day each of antenatal consultations and scopes as well as being on ward rounds. Beaudesert boasts one of the largest rural maternity clinics in Australia and in addition to the consulting doctors, I owe a debt of  gratitude to the patients who waited calmly while I ineptly tried to crunch the numbers for  expected fundal heights or drug doses in my head (in hindsight it was straightforward,  however the pressure of the clinic, doctors and patients is formidable). 

For the two weeks I was in Beaudesert, I had possibly the most convenient accommodation for a medical student; across the road from the ED! I stayed at Baggs of Beaudesert with 3  other students from UQ, one of whom was placed at the hospital with me. Staying in the  accommodation was a great opportunity to share some meals, debrief after long shifts and carpool to the shops. It was comfortable, well located with well stocked amenities.

Jessica Traves – Boonah 

I had the most wonderful time on my TREES observership at Fassifern Doctors and Boonah Hospital. Boonah is a beautiful little town, with a strong sense of community. I remarked to one of the receptionists one morning that it was so lovely hearing patients catching up with friends in the waiting room, rather than just sitting there silently on their phones like we’re accustomed to in Brisbane. 

The doctors I observed and assisted were very willing to teach and invest their time, knowledge and experience in furthering my clinical understanding. They challenged me with questions and encouraged me to use my developing clinical judgement to problem solve patient cases. 

I think my favourite part of my observership was getting to know the patients, hearing their stories, and in a way becoming part of that story for a short period of time. I think this will always be my favourite part of medicine, and my time in Boonah certainly highlighted what a privilege it is to get to do this.

Hannah Hassum – Roma 2018

For my year 1 observership I went to Roma Hospital as part of the TREES program. From reading the past TREES experiences I was excited to see what a placement in a rural hospital would bring! All of the staff were lovely. The doctors were happy to teach you skills and test your clinical knowledge, and there were many lovely nurses willing to give you a hand when you were unsure about what you were doing.

My days primarily rotated through the ED and ward, where you got to practice your history and examination skills. The ED was particularly interesting as a wide variety of medical conditions were treated; from coughs and colds to major trauma. In the ward, I was taught valuable skills such as how to write notes and chart medications by the wonderful intern. This may not sound very exciting but are very useful skills!

At least once a week I had a theatre day, either with the full-time surgeon or a fly-in surgeon. These days were fascinating, as you were able to see the surgeons in action! Roma also has a wide variety, as some specialists such as orthopaedics, ophthalmology and urology have regular surgery days.

In my third week I was able to go on an RFDS flight with the flying surgeon to Charleville. Getting to fly in the plane and see another rural location was an amazing experience. The RFDS surgeons have so much wisdom from working in many areas and were very interesting to chat to.

Belinda Burgess – Kingaroy Hospital 2017

“During my TREES placement, I have had the opportunity to experience the emergency department, OBS & GYN, the medical/surgical ward and theatre lists. Some highlights of my time here include suturing lots of hands and fingers in ED, learning how to cannulate and intubate with the anaesthetist in theatre, scrubbing in to a hernia repair, attending birth suite with the midwives and assisting an emergency Caesarian.

I am very much indebted to the medical, nursing and midwifery staff here at Kingaroy. From day 1, everybody has gone out of their way to welcome us to the team and encourage us to actively participate in patient care. All of the staff, and particularly the senior medical officers, have demonstrated a passion and aptitude for medical education that has ensured that my time here has been a fruitful learning experience.”

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Cedrik Luk – Gladstone GP Clinic 2017

“During my time in consultations, some things I was able to do include listening to abnormal breath sounds or heart sounds that I haven’t heard before in real patients, take blood pressures, try out my otoscopy technique and interpret an ECG. Everyone in the clinic was very friendly and welcoming.

This placement also allowed me to appreciate how important the role of general practice is in coordinating patient care, treating chronic and undifferentiated diseases, preventative healthcare and helping patients navigate the complicated healthcare system. It also gave me insight into difficulties in seeing the right healthcare specialists in areas far away from major cities, as many healthcare services are only available in Rockhampton or Brisbane.”

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Jesse Stirling – Dalby 2018

Everything about my TREES Observership experience was perfect – from the 1:1 student to doctor ratio, the nursing staff who were eager to teach and guide, and the country patients who were all willing for me to have a go (even if I did fail to cannulate them twice before getting it right).

The community life was equally as rewarding. I got involved in multiple sporting clubs, attended local religious meetings, and even won a few weeks of pub trivia with the allied health brainiacs. Dalby is not a large town, but it has a pleasant buzz to it (and all the necessities, namely: a cinema, a good fish and chip shop, and a hotel that serves a mean chicken parmi). I soon realized just how tight the community is when I would go out, and every single time, without fail, I would see someone I knew. It was fantastic.

Past TREES Reports

Previous TREE Scholar reports are published below. These reports are each scholar’s reflection of what their 4 weeks of rural elective achieved, and the highlights of their experiences.

Please note that TREES locations vary year to year.

TREES Reports 2018 – click here to access a folder with the 2018 reports. Placement locations and TREE scholars are listed below.

Riccardo Miceli McMillan -Yeppoon Hospital

Gabriel Glatthor – Yeppoon Hospital

Bron Smith – Emerald Hospital

Bryn Graham – Emerald Medical Group (Superclinic)

Hariharan Ganesan – Dalby Hospital

Jesse Stirling – Dalby Hospital

Danny Hammoudi – Gladstone Hospital

India Plath – Gladstone Hospital

Shannon Baker – Kingaroy General Hospital

Alexander Morris – Kingaroy General Hospital

Hannah Hassum – Roma Hospital

Veronica Ho – Roma Hospital

Nuwan Dahanayake – Charleville

Sebastian Hammond – Charleville

Neetu Matthew – Goondiwindi  

Majed Kamali – Blackbutt Medical Centre 

Justin Tjong – Tara Medical Practice 

Syed Hassan – Beaudesert Hospital

Naomi Turner – Beaudesert Hospital 

Calan Spielman – Kilcoy Hospital 

Isaac Li – Kilcoy Medical Practice 

James Zhang – Warwick Hospital  

Cynthia Liu – Brisbane Valley Medical Services Esk

Devon Clark – St George Medical Centre

Click here to view a folder of past TREES Reports: 2012 – 2018