Pharmacy students inspiring future rural health workers

18 September 2012

On the 30th of August, the Broken Hill Department of Rural Health in collaboration with the National Rural Health Students' Network (NRHSN) and Maari Ma Health Aboriginal Corporation ran a new program called "Healthy Connexions - Your Health is in Your Hands" in the remote outback town of Wilcannia. The focus of the program was to provide a fun, hands-on environment for school students and members of the community to learn more about their own health and how they can take control. The activities covered a range of topics including teeth, ear and eye care as well as healthy eating choices, leading an active lifestyle and appropriate use and storage of medications.

A team of around 30 allied health students (pharmacy, medicine, dietetics, speech pathology and occupational therapy) from the University of Sydney, who were on placement in Broken Hill, helped run the day's activities which were designed to engage with the Wilcannia school students and encourage them to consider a career in the health care industry.

The Faculty of Pharmacy had a strong presence on the day, with four 4th year Bachelor of Pharmacy Rural Major students (Courtney Challinor, Leah Sparke, Daniel Samaan and Max Timmins) holding interactive workshops on medication storage and safety. The school students at St Therese Community School and Wilcannia Central School were given the opportunity to pack "fake" Webster Packs and learn how to be antibiotic resistance fighters through problem-based learning style experiences.

Courtney Challinor, pharmacy student, President of MIRAGE and Senior Allied Health Portfolio for the NRHSN was heavily involved in the planning and execution of the event.

Courtney said: "It was great to be part of this event and to be involved in encouraging students from rural areas to consider studying health. There is definitely a need for more rural and indigenous health workers and visiting schools in rural areas is a great way to engage with the kids and inspire them from an early age."

"As part of the rural high school visits program we try to identify students who have a keen interest in future study. By identifying them, we like to try and help them out along the way, to make sure that they are able to develop their interest and that it's not left behind once we leave."

Pharmacy student Courtney Challinor and Wilcannia student
Pharmacy student Courtney Challinor and Wilcannia student

Pharmacy students Courtney Challinor (L) and Leah Sparke (R)
Pharmacy students Courtney Challinor (L) and Leah Sparke (R)

This story first appeared on the ABC online news site on September 4 2012.

Contact: Kate Sanday

Phone: 02 9351 2311

Email: 371959172531280078390436023d445b36512d4a2b100c50324c270645540a3d