Archive | Medical Students

New Zealand: medical students in rural practice brings benefits for all

nzrgpn14-logoThe New Zealand Rural General Practice Network held their annual conference last weekend.

They’ve helpfully recorded a series of video interviews with their speakers and leaders, and these are available here.

In this video, Wairoa GP Ron Janes explains why training opportunities in rural GP practices have great benefits both for student and teacher, as well as the wider healthcare team.  Involvement in teaching is extremely useful to keep a practice refreshed with energy and new clinical approaches.

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Recruitment & Retention – some ideas

At the recent Dewar 2013 conference, held in Fort William, the issue of recruitment and retention in rural areas was a hot topic of discussion.

One of the presentations was given by David Hogg – GP on the Isle of Arran, and Editor of this  This video has been taken from the webcast, and outlines some ideas on how to improve the current situation.

Comments welcome, either to David (by using the contact form on this website) or in the comments section below.



You can also view the videos linked from this presentation:

Arran Salaried GP Post (filled)

Arran Rural GP Fellowship (recruiting at time of post)




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Success at Dewar 2013 Conference

On Friday 19th April, over fifty people attended the Dewar 2013 conference, held at the Kilmallie Free Church Community Centre in Fort William.  Another forty four people attended by webcast – an experiment for this conference, but one that we think went very well.  The day was widely covered on Twitter too, with the intention of engaging a wider audience and making remote participation possible.


The day saw a wide range of presentations and discussion about the future of rural areas in Scotland – with some focus on health care, but also the wider infrastructure and recruitment & retention to rural areas.   Between excellent shortbread and sandwiches, a vibrant range of workshops and plenaries looked at many angles of rural health care.

Miles giving his radio interview.

Miles giving his radio interview.

The morning kicked off early with the BBC Radio Scotland ‘Out of Doors’ presenter Euan McIlwraith interviewing some of the folks from the current Dewar Committee.  The programme was broadcast yesterday, and is available on BBC iPlayer for the next week.  We think it covers a lot of the conference topics effectively, and especially as the interviews are with ‘grass-roots’ GPs who can speak from much experience.

You can listen to the programme on BBC iPlayer until 26th April.  Scroll to 6min 30s for the feature on Dewar.


Annie Tindley introducing the conference

Annie Tindley introducing the conference

The day was then led very admirably by historian Annie Tindley, with a rapid introduction to the background behind Dewar 2013, including the need (and ease) of looking at Dewar’s original recommendations from 1912 into today’s context.  Why is it easy? Because a lot of the topics raised then, are just as pertinent now.  The benefits of having such wide-ranging input into the day – from our historical experts, to leads on political intervention, community infrastructure, local authority, education and healthcare – were evident.  In terms of looking at challenges to rural health care, we’re in this together and we need to find a multi-agency partnered approach to deal with many of the common issues.


So the day followed the programme as planned, involving participants as much as possible.  We heard from local Applecross resident Alison MacLeod, about their search for a new GP, informed views from the past, including former GP Dr Roddy MacLeod, the issues involved in maintaining emergency responses across rural areas, and a vibrant session with RRHEAL on supporting the continued professional development of staff in rural areas.

Hungry from the stimulating debates that resulted, we were treated to an excellent lunch by the ladies of the Kilmallie Free Church Community Hall, with some also able to enjoy a walk and enjoy the fantastic views of Loch Linnhe.  We were reminded that it’s not always like this in Fort William!


The afternoon session saw further involved debate and participation on issues such as First Responder schemes, rural GP recruitment & retention, and promoting effective working between communities and government.

One of the workshops

One of the workshops in full swing (Annie is keeping an eye on tweets there too!)

And then we all came back together, to sum up, make plans and allow further observations from everyone present  (including webcasting/tweeting).

Access to the webcast

The webcast part of the conference was an experiment, and one which seems to have worked rather well.  Over 40 people were able to join us, and participate using twitter and email.  There is no doubt that this opened up the conference to folks who find it impossible to make the one or two day trip away to attend conferences, even in semi-rural areas like Fort William.  We’d like to thank David Eglinton of HCVF Television, who did a great job with limited broadband in providing a continuous webcast.  In the next week, we aim to get the clips up here on so that you can view the full conference over the web.

What’s next?

The conference has generated many ideas and much enthusiasm for driving forward the issues that are clearly important to improve the prospects for Scotland’s rural and remote communities – both in terms of health and also other infrastructure.  It is clear that folk left the conference with more direction and resolve to ‘get on’ with the job of critical issues, such as recruitment and retention.

Watch this space for updates on opportunities to be involved with this.  Please be welcome to use the ‘comments’ facility on this page to submit your view, or use the hashtag #Dewar2013 on Twitter to tag your comments.

Finally, the Dewar Group would like to thank the Kilmallie Free Church and Community Centre for excellent hosting on the day.  We would enthusiastically recommend the venue to other groups looking to hold conferences in the Fort William area.  In addition, Dr Jim Douglas was instrumental as ‘our man on the ground’ and worked particularly hard to make the day as successful as it was.




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A Student Perspective

Click the photo to download the PDF (9.1MB)

Emily Tait, a 4th year medical student at Dundee University, has published this e-book following a student module travelling around rural Scotland.

It deserves much wider publicity. Emily has managed to pick up on some really important themes that are relevant to remote and rural practice, and presented her observations in a very impressive book incorporating great photos and professional layout.

You can download a copy of this book using the PDF link below. It is hoped that it might even be developed into a web-based resource. Emily is to be congratulated for a fantastic effort and highly relevant piece of work that has been completed in the short space of a student module.

Read more for yourself…. (9.1MB)

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Rural Mentoring Survey: Results

Many thanks to everyone who took part in the mentoring survey, which closed tonight after 2 weeks.  This was kindly hosted by RCGP.  Over fifty rural medical practitioners responded, with some useful and insightful results.

The raw data are presented below.  If you can’t see anything, you can also download a PDF file here.  Apologies that this is slightly clunky – and please note that comments are presented at the end of the PDF.  If you have a large screen, it may be worthwhile opening up two windows so you can follow the questions and free text answers at the same time.

Further analysis will be carried out to summarise the main conclusions.  It is hoped to present this on in the next few weeks.  In the meantime, I have made the following observations on what could be considered the ‘next steps’:

  • Development of a profiles page, giving details of rural GPs who are prepared to act as mentors for committed trainees. (With some time for thought about how this should be co-ordinated and supported).
  • Development of a scholarship scheme for medical student electives.
  • Play down the role of social media, and improve quality student/trainee access to good rural practice experience.

Discussion can take place via the various email groups, or post a comment below.


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24 hours in the life of a NZ GP

This article from 2009 was published in the Timaru Herald, about Dr Paula Hyde, a GP who works in Fairlie, New Zealand.

Dr Hyde of Fairlie Medical Centre, New Zealand

It gives a whistle-stop tour of some her typical duties, and some of the less typical ones.  Her practice presents dilemmas that are familiar to most rural GPs.  She describes the importance of involving students in rural practice, and derives enthusiasm for ongoing medical practice from the ideas that they bring.

It’s the callouts that stretch us. As rural doctors, we have to be ready to be on call at any given time.

Read the full article here.



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The R&R of R&R

Recruitment & retention… a big topic this week on the email groups, and a major topic for remote and rural healthcare since healthcare began.  Major difficulties are being noticed globally, hence the Australian, New Zealand, WHO, EU and local efforts to address the issue.

What do you think? has launched a survey to collate as many ideas as possible, and get a handle on whether provision of mentoring to enthusiastic young doctors who are interested in a rural career, would be feasible and effective as just one solution.

You can access the survey here.  It has a Scottish focus but we invite opinion from across the globe.  It should take a maximum of 10 minutes, and you have until Monday 5th November 2012 to complete the survey.  Entries are confidential and the final report will be published on



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Rural Week in Nova Scotia

Good luck to our colleagues at the Dalhousie Medical School, in New Brunswick, Nova Scotia.  Today is the first day of their Rural Week,  an organised programme for newer medical students to experience rural practice.

As well as the anticipated effect for recruitment of future rural doctors, they also feel that it is vital that all doctors gain exposure to the challenges of rural practice, so that there is better understanding if they follow a more urban or centralised career pathway.

The video below explains the programme, and has contributions from both staff and students.  Please leave a comment or contact us directly if you know of other projects like this where you work.  A recent article in the Canadian Journal of Rural Medicine by Dr Roderick Cheung highlights the importance of these weeks in providing early inspiration.


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Rural Opportunities in Scotland

NHS Education for Scotland has released a new DVD about opportunities for various healthcare careers within rural areas.  It’s part of the Remote and Rural Healthcare Educational Alliance (RRHEAL), an initiative to improve training and development of healthcare teams across rural Scotland.

The first part of the video focusses on dentistry; there are subsequent interviews with Charlie Siderfin (GP Postgraduate Tutor, Orkney), Chris Williams (GP Trainee, Orkney) and David Sedgwick (Consultant Surgeon, Fort William).  If you can’t see the video below, you might need to visit this page on Vimeo.

The next round of GP Rural Fellowships – ideal for recently qualified GPs – will be released soon on the NES website.  You can read more about these fellowships here.

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Study: Rural Placements for UK Medical Students

It’s increasingly recognised that rural practice can offer undergraduate medical students excellent learning opportunities, with higher-than-average satisfaction compared with their urban counterparts.  There can be many reasons for this, not least that students are often forced into immersing themselves in the local community, as a rural placement will normally involve staying within the locality, instead of being able to return home from an urban practice which is normally easier to commute to.

Furthermore, there is good evidence that giving students a good experience of rural practice during the early stages of their careers, stimulates a considerable number of them to seriously consider taking up rural posts once more qualified.  That’s certainly the case in my experience, when a fulfilling 5 week placement at the Group Practice in Stornoway made me think more about rural general practice as a career option.

However, how rural practice is offered to undergraduates, is implemented in many different ways across the UK.  Of course, that is no bad thing, but we are starting to better understand the relationship between early student experiences and later career choice.

This piece of research from the IRH considers the rural practice opportunities for students at Keele University, and reports on some of the key findings from conversations with students who have benefitted from such placements.

>> Rural and Remote Health Journal – View Article.

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