Reading through the AIR’s Spectrum magazine [Volume 21 (2) March 2014] and we saw this great article (on page 25) talking about working in the country…
Rural Placement at Ararat District Hospital
In early July 2013, I travelled to Ararat in Victoria to start a four-week placement at Ararat District Hospital. The town is a small, former gold-mining settlement with a vibrant heritage and an abundance of cultural, historical and natural attractions. The hospital was the ﬁrst large structure built during the gold rush in the 1850s and this, along with its iconic Victorian-style tower, made it very different to any hospital I had ever been placed in before.
This was my ﬁrst time living away from home and the notion of being plunged into a completely isolated and independent living environment was naturally unsettling at ﬁrst, but soon became an adventure in itself! Whenever I got the chance, I would go out and explore the town and even went to walk through the chilling bluestone halls of the notorious J-Ward gaol.
My accommodation was a newly-refurbished and cosy house, just minutes away from my workplace. Early frosty mornings and the spectacle of the sun rising against the backdrop of the mountain range and rural landscape on my way to work were the start of a very exciting and unforgettable experience.
All of my previous placements have been within Radiology departments of larger hospitals and after day one the differences between rural and large metropolitan hospitals were evident. It was surprising that they only had one general x-ray room and a mobile x-ray machine that on average was only used once a year! Most hospitals I’ve been to also have a number of staff rostered on for different shifts during the week. Often I would work with someone one day and the day after I would be with someone else. This was different in Ararat as the department was much smaller, which meant I worked with the same people every day and got to know them very well.
One day a week there would be a radiologist onsite in the department. This was the only time that examinations could be scheduled that required a doctor to be on duty — for example CT examinations requiring intravenous contrast administration. I also noticed that the radiographers often had to apply their own lateral thinking and reasoning because the radiologist was not always accessible. This provided me with the opportunity to also develop my own reason and logic skills.
Being able to work in a rural hospital and becoming accustomed to the workflow and lifestyle made the experience even more valuable. During my time there, I was able to work in general x-ray where I spent a lot of time focussing on developing my radiographic technique and quality of patient care. I was even privileged enough to spend some time in CT. It was fantastic to be able to develop a broader set of interpersonal skills and at the same time, live in a town I never would have thought to visit.
As student radiographers, we are expected to strive for a high level of competence with our technique and maintain excellent patient care. I was very excited to be placed rurally because I was able to learn so much and vary the knowledge I had obtained from metropolitan hospitals to add to the development of my skill set. To make the to a great radiographer, it is important to experience different situations in different environments.
My four weeks in Ararat really did provide me with this opportunity and as such, the rural placement was truly one of the most rewarding and eye-opening experiences I have ever had! I would like to thank the staff at Ararat Hospital for making my experience so unforgettable.
2nd Year Medical Imaging Student Monash University