JFPP student Gareth with nursing students

The Clarence Valley Regional Training Hub has partnered with the Clarence Health Service and the NSW Rural Doctors Network to support the return of John Flynn Placement Program (JFPP) students to the Clarence Valley region. Students from the University of Wollongong, University of Sydney, University of Queensland, University of New England and University of New South Wales had the opportunity to undertake clinical placements at Grafton Base Hospital (GBH) from November 2019 through to January 2020.

These students were very pleased to have had the chance to experience clinical training in the emergency department of GBH under the guidance of JFPP mentor Dr Alastair McInnes. GBH has diverse presentations that enable the students to observe the team managing everything from run of the mill ailments to retrievals.

Students were also able to access education through the simulation suite, which sees a diverse mix of clinical and multidisciplinary educational offerings. The JFPP students actively participated in the Christmas-themed simulation session which had Santa present with leg burns and antlers protruding from his torso. These students also attended grand rounds presentations at the GBH.

The Grafton JFPP program enables exposure to all aspects of rural health, an example being the Clarence Health Service High Risk Podiatry Clinic at Maclean Community Health. This team takes a multidisciplinary focussed, patient-centred approach, with coordinated care at the fore front of their service delivery. This is an ideal opportunity for students to have first-hand experience in this approach to patient care.

Some of the students were able to follow patients from emergency triage through to the operating theatre and then next day found themselves doing activities like ward rounds with the paediatric team and observing baby health checks in the maternity unit. The weekends were left free for them to enjoy living (albeit briefly) in Grafton and exploring the region, visiting Yamba markets, scuba diving, having pizza nights and visiting farms.

JFPP students Evie and Samantha
JFPP students Evie and Samantha

One JFPP medical student summed it up by saying:

“Around every corner at Grafton Base Hospital was a friendly, smiling face more than willing to give you a part of their day to say hello, point you in the right direction, help out or teach you something new. The experience I had at GBH was, for lack of a better word, incredible. The teaching and exposure to rural medicine is the best to date that I’ve had, by some of the most friendly staff I’ve ever been lucky enough to get to spend some time alongside. Genuinely feeling like part of the team was something quite different to some of the bigger hospitals where it is all too easy to get lost in the everyday busyness and sometimes seemingly chaotic nature of a tertiary centre. I feel very privileged as part of the John Flynn Placement Program to be able to have 2 weeks every year in such a great environment. I can’t wait to come back again.”

Another JFPP medical student said:

“Thank you so much for organising everything for us! We had an absolutely fantastic time - everyone was so lovely and our JFPP mentor, Dr Alastair McInnes, was amazing! We learned a lot and it was great just to get a feel of the hospital and how it all works!”

Evie and Sam Kayaking in Yamba
Evie and Sam Kayaking in Yamba


Joanne Chad
Clarence Valley Regional Training Hub
University of Wollongong