Four join record UWA ru­ral in­take

Pilbara News - - News - Ali­cia Per­era

Four Pil­bara stu­dents have achieved the first big step to­wards their dream to be­come doc­tors af­ter be­ing ac­cepted to study medicine at UWA, as part of a record in­take of ru­ral stu­dents for its Fac­ulty of Health and Med­i­cal Sci­ences.

The Pil­bara co­hort, in­clud­ing Kai Rigby from Tom Price, Sarah Mullen from Kar­ratha and An­drew Len­ton from Port Hed­land, are among 105 stu­dents from coun­try ar­eas across WA who have been as­sured places in medicine af­ter fin­ish­ing their un­der­grad­u­ate de­grees.

Mr Rigby, who moved to Tom Price in Year 7 and was the 2016 Tom Price Se­nior High School dux, said he had ap­plied to study medicine af­ter his Bach­e­lor of Sci­ence dou­ble ma­jor in chem­istry and ge­net­ics to pur­sue his in­ter­ests in trauma treat­ment and ge­net­ics re­search.

He said he had be­come in­ter­ested in medicine through his high school in­volve­ment with the Tom Price Cadet Corps, which had given him hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence in first aid and am­bu­lance work.

“In Year 8 I joined the cadet unit... and they have an agree­ment with St John Am­bu­lance) where you can get your first aid cer­tifi­cate at age 12, rather than age 14 or 15 as in other places,” he said.

“So that got me in­ter­ested in the trauma work. Be­fore that I was think­ing of do­ing me­chan­i­cal en­gi­neer­ing be­cause I like maths.”

Mr Rigby said he had been en­cour­aged by UWA med­i­cal school sup­port staff and his network in Tom Price in­clud­ing fam­ily, teach­ers and the cadet unit, tak­ing all the op­por­tu­ni­ties that came his way from the UWA As­pire camp to fly­ing to Perth to sit the UMAT and ad­mis­sion in­ter­views.

UWA ru­ral sup­port co-or­di­na­tor Sue Poug­nault said it was en­cour­ag­ing to see so many coun­try stu­dents join­ing the UWA Med­i­cal school and en­thu­si­as­tic to con­trib­ute to WA health­care.

“We are look­ing for­ward to wel­com­ing these stu­dents into a re­ally ex­cit­ing and re­ward­ing teach­ing pro­gram, where they will learn about the lat­est ad­vances in medicine,” she said.

“Aside from help­ing the stu­dents in their fields, the pro­gram will also help in­crease the num­ber of prac­ti­tion­ers that are able to of­fer sup­port in re­mote com­mu­ni­ties.”

Mr Rigby said for ru­ral stu­dents, dis­tance, cost and the lim­ited avail­abil­ity of spe­cial­ity high school sub­jects posed dif­fi­cul­ties for mak­ing it into medicine, and said it was a “priv­i­lege” to be part of the record-mak­ing ru­ral in­take.

He said he would like to re­turn to the Pil­bara on a med­i­cal stu­dent place­ment in com­ing years. “I will end up back in the Pil­bara af­ter I fin­ish,” he said. “I’ll def­i­nitely do my re­gional train­ing in the Pil­bara, but I don’t know where yet.”

Pic­ture: Jess Reid/ UWA

Tom Price’s Kai Rigby is one of four young Pil­bara res­i­dents who have been ac­cepted into the UWA School of Medicine.

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