Volunteering their time and skills at community-based events is an important focus for third year medical students who are part of the Rural Stream at the Australian National University.
Recently, students based in Bega participated in the Pambula Melanoma Awareness Day (MAD).
Ms Deborah Ferguson, who coordinates student participation at local events for the Rural Clinical School in Bega advised “Australia has one of the highest skin cancer rates in the world and many families have been touched by skin cancer, so this is a cause that is easily understood and relevant. Particularly in rural areas, people tend to work and play outdoors a lot, increasing the risk of skin cancer.”
“Participation by our students in events such as MAD helps them to connect with the community in which they live and work, practice their skills, and raise awareness about an important cause,” Ms Ferguson said.
With the guidance of Academic Coordinator, Dr Erika Jaensch, the eight students were part of a wider ‘health hub’ at the event. They were responsible for blood pressure checks, alongside nurses who performed blood glucose checks, and there was pop-up clinic for the community to be screened for melanoma.
Student Lachlan Campbell said, “Measuring and recording blood pressure is a skill that we learnt very early on in our study, but not necessarily something that we have done frequently in a community setting.”
“Being able to meet locals, have a conversation with them and also discuss their results was a good opportunity to apply our knowledge.”
Lillian Nelson, another student involved, added, “Participation in community events is very rewarding and allows us to give back to the people that welcome us into their community by being involved in their care while we’re learning. I think across the whole day, we screened about 100 people.”
“It was wonderful to spend time observing the students interacting with their community. The students have transitioned beautifully and are now applying their academic knowledge to the clinical setting. This was a great opportunity to reinforce the importance and benefits of preventative care, public health screening and education," Dr Jaensch noted.