Sunday, July 21, 2024

Training our future rural doctors in the regions

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Elspeth Radford, Naracoorte Community News

Izak Mentz family migrated to Australia from South Africa when he was four and after living in a few different regions across Australia, settled in Wallaroo on Yorke Peninsula.

At school, Izak was a competitive, quiet achiever who took pride in his studies and was passionate about sport, in particular, Aussie rules football.

“I had a period in high school where football was life, thankfully, my parents were very supportive and helped me keep some focus on my studies, so that I could get into university and chase some other dreams.”

“I always enjoyed biology, physical education, and chemistry at school. I knew I wanted to do something involving the science of the human body in my profession one day.

I weighed up fields like physiotherapy, chemistry, pharmacy, and various others. Eventually I thought paramedics sounded the most fun, with the fact you aren’t confined to one room or building all day every day; you get called to new locations every day.”

Izak studied Paramedic Science at Flinders University, graduating in 2019 and worked many part time jobs to support himself during that time including first aid, window cleaning, construction site cleaning, and residential coordinator to name a few.

“Through my paramedic science degree, I realised my hunger to learn more. I enjoyed the paramedic field but found myself wanting to learn what happens to the patients we drop off at the emergency departments.

I then wanted the opportunity to be that person implementing those further steps of care and that desire led me to medicine.”

Having spent his formative years in a small rural community, Izak applied to be part of the Flinders University MD Rural Stream which would allow him to study for a full year in a regional location, developing his clinical skills and learning from rural doctors.

“I love the smaller communities and friendlier people, most places you go people say hi and offer you a smile. In Naracoorte at first it was a bit strange walking around with people I hadn’t met saying “hey, you’re the new doc in town, aren’t you?” Over time you become used to that and appreciate the friendly conversation.

I appreciate the lighter traffic, despite the sometimes longer trips to visit regional towns. I also love the atmosphere around sporting clubs in rural towns – in my experience a larger proportion of individuals in rural towns care about or are involved in their local sporting club compared to the average suburb in a larger city like Adelaide.”

“My biggest personal highlight has been getting involved in a quality football club with Naracoorte this year. I have spent a few years not playing due to a list of injuries but decided last year I would start training and have another run this year.

I’m in a very happy place when I am playing decent football and am surrounded by a good positive group of teammates and support staff.”

Izak is enjoying the variety of work he has been exposed to during his time in Naracoorte at the Kincraig clinic.

“Most weeks consist of Monday-Friday on placement at the clinic, but with Wednesdays off for a study day in Mount Gambier with my other colleagues in the Greater Green Triangle.

Often one day a week I am in theatre with a visiting surgeon, and one week every month I get to spend in the hospital and emergency department (Monday-Sunday on call) which is awesome.

A lot of the visiting surgeons have been very senior, with a few of them being the heads of their respective fields in tertiary hospitals – most students in the city probably would not get to meet them, let alone be assisting them in theatre.

The local staff are also eager to help us learn and develop our practical skills, with most patients more than happy to let us suture up their wounds, take their bloods, examine them and so on.”

Izak also believes that you need to give back to community and has been part of the Flinders University STEM Showcase and Regional Roadshow which will be coming to the South-east later in 2022.

“It’s always fun getting to showcase my professional field to the younger generation and see a few excited faces that might one day be a part of the future health workforce!”

Everyone needs some down time from their studies and work and Izak is no exception, enjoying his sport, football, social netball, golf, gym, running as well as reading, music and watching something good on Netflix.

In the future, Izak hopes to become a rural GP and possibly specialise in emergency medicine, but as he says “There are still so many fields of medicine I have yet to experience, and I have so much to still consider.

Who knows, maybe I’ll fall in love with surgery, or decide psychiatry is the path for me. That is one of the best things about medicine – the options feel endless!

Naracoorte Community News 27 July 2022

This article appeared in the Naracoorte Community News.

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