Rural Clinical School was the testing ground for Stephanie Sherrard’s future in medicine.
She may have grown up in Kununurra and she may have heard from previous students that the School was a good learning opportunity, but it was not until she completed her own RCS year that Stephanie knew her future was definitely in rural and remote medicine.
“It was much more fun than I expected, and it also cemented that I wanted to work in a rural area when I finished,” she says.
“It was a real fun year with lots of ‘hands on’ experience in comparison to my city years. We could take a clinical or practical opportunity when it came up, For example, if a child presented to the Emergency Department with a condition we were interested in, we had the opportunity to go and see that case even if we were not strictly doing paediatrics.
Broome 2006 also confirmed Stephanie’s interest in Aboriginal and child health – work which she now combines as the Fellow in Aboriginal Child Health at Princess Margaret Hospital working on a multi-disciplinary team.
It is a role which enables her to work at both a practical and policy level via research.
“My job at the moment is 50 percent clinical and 50 percent research. I do the clinical work in Perth and that involves seeing Aboriginal children with general paediatric and developmental issues on the wards and in clinics at Princess Margaret, and also in outreach clinics in the outer metropolitan area.
“At moment I am working on the Nini Helthiwan Project with KAMS, which aims to improve maternal and infant primary care in the Kimberley. Part of this involves improving child developmental outcomes, which is the aspect I’ve been contributing to.”**
Stephanie’s future in medicine remains founded on her year in Rural Clinical School.
“It was just an amazing experience and the supervisors were fantastic – they were really good mentors, and I think a lot of it was seeing the supervisors work that made me decide that that was what I wanted to do.”
**Nini Helthiwan translates as “healthy baby.” According to the project, about half of Aboriginal babies and mothers in the Kimberley region have iron deficiency anaemia which can cause neurodevelopmental problems in babies and increased morbidity in mothers. The project aims to implement a “new locally driven enhanced support model to reduce anaemia rates and improve the maternal and infant primary care.”