Graphic: Scholarship

RFDS Scholarships Impact

Date published

21 Feb 2024

On February 7th, we were privileged to hear from our 2023 RFDS Tasmania Scholarship recipients at our presentation event, about their time working with the RFDS – in Tasmania and on the mainland. An enraptured audience heard stories of outback adventures, DIY dental extractions when people couldn’t access our services, the challenges of providing medical care on board an aircraft, and how vital the RFDS service is to remote communities.

We saw images of amazing desert sunsets, red earth stretching to the horizon, remote clinics and the small, but resilient communities we are an integral part of.

But what impressed us the most, was the huge impact the scholarships had on the recipients who gained an appreciation of the health inequities faced by those living far from our cities.

Their speeches were truly inspiring.

RFDS Tasmania continues to work with community partners to connect students to real-life experiences.

Evidence supports a link between student exposure to community experiences and training reflective of rural practices to an increase in the total number of new graduates entering rural practice.

“Quality rural experience is also vital, as positive learner experiences are fundamental to driving rural interest. “. Fatima Y, Kazmi S, King S et al. Positive placement experience and future rural practice intentions: findings from a repeated cross‐sectional study. J Multidiscip Healthc 2018; 11: 645‐652.

And there is a need for health professionals in our rural and remote communities.

“Recruitment of health professionals remains difficult in some professions and to regional and rural areas. “. Health_workforce2040_strategy_DoHTasmania2019

One of the desired outcomes of the scholarships is to promote emerging medical care workers to pursue working in remote or rural areas and help boost the numbers of medical professionals urgently needed.

Six RFDS Tasmania Scholarship recipients shared e their experiences and their insights into both the advantages and difficulties health professionals and Australians face in living in geographically challenged locations and places without readily available access to health care services.

The scholarships allow students to work alongside RFDS staff to deliver programs and essential services in rural and remote regions. Students have exposure to the realities of working in these areas and both the rewards and challenges faced in delivering services and develop skills and understanding of effectively providing services.

Luke was one of six recipients. During his time with RFDS, he flew 8 561 km, visited 15 places, and took 12 flights for a total of 28 hours and 47 minutes of flying time.

Caroline was awarded the 2023 RFDS CTA Scholarship. Caroline is passionate about rural health. Relocating from Sydney to Tasmania allowed her to observe health inequities between urban/rural areas. Witnessing this early in her medical career, Caroline wants to reduce rural health inaccessibility by practicing medicine rurally. Caroline will also be speaking at the scholarship presentations.

Overview of scholarships:

> Seven Annual Scholarships
> RFDS Fred McKay Medical Scholarship, (2000), awarded to a fifth-year medical student, studying a Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery at UTAS. The scholarship comprises of a two-week placement with the RFDS in Broken Hill.
> RFDS Robin Miller RFDS Nursing Scholarship, (2013), awarded to a final year student studying a Bachelor of Nursing. The scholarship comprises a two-week placement, with the RFDS, in Port Augusta.
> RFDS John Flynn Dental Assistant Scholarship, (2006) - provides a two-week placement with RFDS dental team for a dental assistant who is studying a Certificate III with TasTAFE.
> Three RFDS/Commercial Travellers Association (CTA) Student Scholarships, (2016) - provide 4th year medical students from rural or remote areas with financial assistance to undertake their practical placement.
> RFDS/Fairbrother 1st year Nursing Scholarship, (2019) - provides financial assistance and one-week work experience for a student from a remote or rural area undertaking Nursing.
> The first scholarship awarded was the Fred McKay Scholarship, for a 5th-year medical student, in 2000.
> Over 75 scholarships awarded to date.
> Awarded our 60th scholarship in our 60th year, (2020).
> Placements in places including: - Broken Hill, Dubbo, Port Augusta, Broome, Port Headland, Mt Isa.

We would like to acknowledge and thank the Fairbrother Foundation, Commercial Travellers Association, and UTAS for their support of our scholarships. Your sponsorship provides students with a positive rural experience, fundamental to driving an interest in rural health care.

We are fortunate to have an amazing group of young health professionals entering, or about to enter, the health workforce.

Scholarship recipients were:

Marley Brown – 2023 RFDS John Flynn Dental Assistant Scholarship

Brooklyn Turner – 2023 RFDS Fairbrother First Year Nursing Scholarship

Luke Muir – 2023 RFDS Commercial Travellers Association Fourth Year Medical Scholarship

Caroline Grace – 2023 RFDS Commercial Travellers Association Fourth Year Medical Scholarship

Struen Vanderplas – 2023 RFDS Commercial Travellers Association Fourth Year Medical Scholarship