My name is Mary McWatters and I’m part of the rural immersion program (RMIP) in Blenheim this year.  I was given the opportunity to go on an exchange with Monash University to Sale, Gippsland in Australia.

As a 5th year I am at the same stage as the 4th year medical students over here and are therefore doing similar things to them.  I attended tutorials with them on my first day here after a tour of the Central Gippsland Health Service (the hospital here in Sale).  The hospital is a similar size to Wairau in Blenheim with pediatric, womens, medical and surgical wards as well as an emergency department.  Monash university has a small teaching facility next to the hospital including a skills lab with very up to date equipment for the students to practice on.

Day 2

Was spent in ED.  I was able to see patients myself and then discuss them with an intern or consultant who would then go and see them.  At first I struggled with the different medications used over here as different drugs seem to be the choice compared to New Zealand or I just wasn’t familiar with the brand names.

It just so happened that several young women came in with syncope (fainting) symptoms during the day so I got quite used to the workup for this problem.  Otherwise the presenting complains were fairly representative of a normal ED day; constipation, chest pain, eye pain and falls for example.

Day 3

I was at the Clock tower medical centre today.  This is a general practice with 8 doctors a mix of consultants, registrars and interns (PGY1′s).  I sat in with a GP to get the feel of the software they use over here and then got to see a few patients first in the afternoon.

Many of the appointments were follow ups for patients on long term medications or with medical problems which required review.  We also had to go and check patients were fit to receive a vaccine during the day.  The day finished with some minor surgical skills required to remove a large fragmented splinter from a young girls arm.

So far I’m loving my visit to Sale.  Everyone has been very welcoming and enthusiastic.  The medical system isn’t too different but I’m learning the subtle differences in protocol and the requirements to secure funding for patients.