Priceless medical venture: university link to teach aboriginal health issues

ORANGE Aboriginal Medical Service (OAMS) has joined forces with The University of Sydney (UOS) in a bid to provide medical students with a more comprehensive education of Aboriginal health in the central west.

OAMS will accept UOS School of Rural Health students for one week each term to ensure students are equipped with knowledge surrounding rural health, particularly Aboriginal health issues.

Students will work closely with OAMS general practitioners, Aboriginal health workers and staff, allowing them to gain the best possible understanding of Orange’s aboriginal medical issues.

OAMS staff will be provided with up to 32 hours of training and support from the UOS in Orange, and assistance with OAMS governance to help support the board and staff to function effectively and efficiently, meeting their legislative and constitutional obligations and requirements. 

UOS associate dean and head of School of Rural Health Mark Arnold said the opportunity is priceless for students, giving them the opportunity to gain knowledge they won’t learn from a text book.

“It’s so important for our students to be involved in a venture such as this,” he said.

“They get the chance to be educated in the importance of community and so they can really, in a first hand way, experience what’s actually going on so they have an understanding of health disparities in a practical rather than a theoretical way.”

OAMS chief executive officer Jamie Newman labelled the agreement critical to the region’s wellbeing, and said the huge opportunity was a two-way street.

“It’s critical for OAMS to be aligned with universities like this,” Mr Newman said.

“It’s more than just medical student placements. This opportunity allows us the chance for education training which is critical. But also clinical support, supervision, opportunities for advances in healthcare that might not have been available to our staff otherwise.”

The two organisations have a long-standing relationship, since the School of Rural Health originated in Orange in 2008. 

This agreement builds on that relationship and will benefit both the Aboriginal community as well as the university’s student doctors.

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