Flinders University’s Parallel Rural Community Curriculum encourages medical students to spend the third year of their studies completely ensconced in a country lifestyle.  

Story Elspeth Radford 

Tom Smith grew up in a crayfishing family on Kangaroo Island, SA. Although academically quite strong, he didn’t consider studying medicine, as he didn’t think he would get the necessary marks while attending school on the island. But now, here he is nine years later, doing his third year of a medical degree on the island, thanks to a Flinders University program called the Parallel Rural Community Curriculum (PRCC) that lets students get completely immersed in a rural community for 12 months while studying.

Tom’s love of science, maths, problem-solving and helping others initially led him to study radiation therapy, and he graduated from Flinders University in 2015. This was followed by work in major hospitals in Adelaide, Melbourne and the Gold Coast, but Tom was concerned his career path would become more managerial and less hands-on, so he decided to study medicine. “At school, medicine was not considered a career option and only became a focus once I had some life experiences and realised it was a possibility, if I worked hard,” he says.

Flinders University encourages rural and remote students to apply for its health degrees, with flexible pathways that don’t necessarily depend on a really high year 12 score to get in. Places are reserved for Australian students with a rural background. 

This story excerpt is from Issue #134

Outback Magazine: Dec/Jan 2021