Southern Adelaide residents are helping to train their own future doctors through a Flinders University program which allows medical students to see health practitioners in action.
Flinders University’s Onkaparinga Clinical Education Program (OCEP) gives third year Flinders medical students the opportunity to spend their entire year of study working primarily in the Southern Adelaide community with general practitioners, private specialists, and clinicians.
Each year, 24 medical students relocate their study to suburbs such as Christies Beach, Noarlunga and Hallett Cove to learn about health care provision in a community setting as part of their participation in OCEP.
The program combines six months in a general practice, with a six-month program of specialty rotations, primarily at Noarlunga Hospital.
Students also participate in clinical teaching activities throughout the year.
OCEP Academic Coordinator Dr Sarah Mahoney said the program provides an excellent opportunity for the Southern Adelaide community to enhance the students’ learning by allowing them to be present during a regular GP consultation.
“We find patients generally don’t mind,” said Dr Mahoney. “In fact, often they quite enjoy talking with the student because they get more involvement and are happy to help with their training.”
These experiences and interactions are critical to shaping the student’s learning – both in terms of their clinical education and their community engagement and communication skills.”
“Through OCEP the Southern Adelaide community is directly educating our students, who could well be the future GPs of the South.”
More than 50 general practitioners and 80 private specialists and allied health professionals offer learning opportunities to OCEP students in Adelaide’s South.
Dr Frank Maldari of Christies Beach Medical Centre has hosted OCEP students for the past three years and has this year employed three OCEP graduates as registrars.
“Programs like OCEP ultimately benefit the community by producing better quality general practitioners, and often doctors in general,” said Dr Maldari.
“I find students who have had decent exposure to general practice as part of their medical course are far different and superior both as interns and registrars – in terms of their understanding of what general practice is about, how to talk to patients, practicality and their capacity to think and to analyse problems, rather than have these set protocols in their minds.
“Students develop a better knowledge of the local area and associated services, and I’ve found OCEP graduates are more likely to practice in the area on completion of their medical degree, which is a huge benefit for the South.”
Laura Gellie, an OCEP student based at the Christies Beach Medical Centre, said she values the community-based aspect of OCEP and the fact much of the Program is undertaken in the community.
“Dealing with people from the local community in a general practice you can get a bit more of a background on them and their context, which is really positive,” she said.
“You not only get to know individuals who visit the surgery, but you get to know some local schools and teachers, and so you develop some context about the community as a whole.
“Given my experience in OCEP so far I would certainly consider returning to the Southern Adelaide community to practice upon graduation.”