If you want to be a doctor but you live in the bush, your chances of winning a place in a medicine degree are improving. The Curtin Medical School Ambassador Alumni scheme engages current Curtin medical students to help students in rural, regional and remote schools who would like to apply to Curtin Medical School.
To find out more go to to Curtin Medical School.
Schools that want to engage with the program should contact the Curtin Medical School Rural Academic Lead, Professor Keith McNaught.
Curtin Medical School support for future RRR students
Curtin Medical School (CMS) has a deep commitment to produce doctors to work in rural locations. CMS fully appreciates that the lack of doctors in many rural areas, a particular issue in Western Australia, results in poor health outcomes for rural residents. CMS is also acutely aware that there are real and significant challenges for rural young people, wanting to study Medicine, and being educated in rural areas, often with significantly less opportunities than city-educated students. Rural students often have less Career Guidance advice, and may not realise that Curtin offers a rural entry pathway to Medicine with additional ATAR score weightings for rural students.
In 2021, Professor Keith McNaught, the CMS Rural Academic Lead, worked closely with the President of the Curtin Rural Health Club, Jarrad Burgess, to develop and pilot the Alumni Ambassador program. The program was designed to have current Medical students, with a rural background, volunteer to promote studying medicine, in their home towns, or in towns and locations where they had connections.
Keith had generated a list of target rural schools across WA, and then Jarrad and Keith matched student volunteers to those schools and beyond. There were 26 volunteers, who will be visiting 35 secondary schools in 2021. The volunteers all do their school visits whilst they are at home on breaks, so there are no costs associated with running the program, except to visit those locations where an Alumni Ambassador is not available.
When the partner secondary schools agreed to be involved, they nominated a school contact person, who is the liaison person for each Alumni Ambassador. The school visits have commenced, and feedback has been resoundingly positive. Second-Year student, Ipsita, was involved in a school visit where she connected with an outstanding Year 11 Indigenous student, who is now linked to the Medical School’s Admission Officer, as she charts her personalised pathway to Medicine at Curtin.
Alumni Ambassador visits are most often to Year 10 and 11 classes, with schools usually aligning this to a science class. With Year 10 classes, the Alumni Ambassadors talk about the benefits of the rural entry pathway, and the subject selections recommended for Medicine. Year 11 presentations also focus on UCAT testing, so rural students are aware of the process and timeline, which will occur during Year 12, and also of the scholarships to assist with the costs of completing the UCAT testing in Perth. Importantly, secondary school students are referred to the website, where they are can obtain up-to-date information about Curtin’s Medical and Health Science programs and have links to access further information.
Whilst it will be some years before the impacts of the CMS Alumni Ambassador program are fully known, there have been immediate benefits noted. Secondary school partners have had increased contact with CMS staff, and applications for UCAT scholarships tripled from 2020 to 2021. There are few things as motivating for a rural student as seeing their peers, who they know from their school and community, studying Medicine, and being aware that it’s a real study and career option for them too.
This report has been supplied by Curtin University.