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Student Story: Paramedicine, 750km from home

2 Dec 2021

On the wide open plains of southwestern Queensland, hospitals and outside help may be far away. Nicolas Stanford reflects on his time as student paramedic on Charleville Station, the importance of thinking outside the box, and the inspirational professionals he encountered.

My place­ment with Queens­land Ambu­lance Ser­vice to Charleville for two weeks can only be described as one of the best expe­ri­ences I have had as a stu­dent paramedic.

Ini­tial­ly, I was hes­i­tant to apply for a rur­al place­ment because the dis­tance and the loca­tion can be daunt­ing. But after express­ing an inter­est in remote, rur­al, and aus­tere med­i­cine, I thought: what bet­ter way to try it for real than to trav­el over 750 kilo­me­tres to the South­west Out­back of Queensland?

My uni­ver­si­ty, Aus­tralian Catholic Uni­ver­si­ty, sent out EOIs for rur­al place­ments at the start of the semes­ter and I thought this would be an excel­lent expe­ri­ence”.

Imme­di­ate­ly I was in awe of the wide-open plains and lim­it­less farms that stretched out around me on the dri­ve from Bris­bane; a huge dif­fer­ence to the packed and busy streets of South Bris­bane where I cur­rent­ly live.

My first shift at Charleville Sta­tion was filled with meet­ing the oth­er Para­medics who worked there, and hear­ing about and learn­ing from their expe­ri­ences, which includ­ed high­way car rollovers, mul­ti-casu­al­ty farm acci­dents, and numer­ous trans­fers to the Roy­al Fly­ing Doc­tor Service.

Through­out my place­ment I met more of the health work­ers oper­at­ing through­out the South­west Health area, such as nurs­es, doc­tors and com­mu­ni­ty engage­ment teams. I was amazed at the calm and relaxed demeanour they showed when talk­ing about car­ing for patients in set­tings where defin­i­tive care may be hun­dreds of kilo­me­tres away. I enjoyed work­ing on road and treat­ing patients in Charleville and hear­ing their sto­ries of lives lived on cat­tle farms as stock­men, or of peo­ple who moved out West for one year’ and end­ed up stay­ing for 20.

One of the biggest learn­ing points for me when prac­tis­ing para­med­i­cine in a rur­al set­ting was learn­ing how to think out­side the box in rela­tion to how best to treat a patient. In metro ser­vices you are nev­er too far away from a ter­tiary lev­el hos­pi­tal or a crit­i­cal care para­medic, where­as out in Charleville and rur­al Queens­land, para-medics often respond by them­selves and are expect­ed to get the patient in a sta­ble con­di­tion and to the local hos­pi­tal with lit­tle resources.

This has impact­ed my cur­rent prac­tice and made me more excit­ed to explore the dif­fer­ent areas of para­med­i­cine in a rur­al set­ting.

I did get plen­ty of time for trav­el and for see­ing what out­back Queens­land has to offer, and even man­aged to make a trip out to Mut­tabur­ra to see the famous dinosaur – a child­hood dream of mine.

Although my place­ment was short, I learned so much from the para­medics at Charleville Sta­tion that will impact me through­out my career. I want to thank the sta­tion and all those who took the time to men­tor me and teach me. I also want to thank CRANAplus for pro­vid­ing the under­grad­u­ate place­ment schol­ar­ship that made place­ment much eas­i­er to man­age finan­cial­ly, and for their sup­port throughout.

Apply for an Under­grad­u­ate Remote Place­ment Schol­ar­ship for finan­cial sup­port dur­ing your clin­i­cal placement.

Read about the expe­ri­ences of Mol­ly, Maigan and Ver­i­ty on their rural/​remote clin­i­cal placements.