Navigating the Rural Clinical Education Pathway in the Time of a Pandemic: Opportunities and Challenges
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed everything about the world we live in, in 2020. It is having obvious impacts on the way we teach and the way we learn. In Victoria, Monash Rural Health Bendigo is one of the few places that has managed to continue clinical health education and clinical placements throughout 2020—albeit in modified forms. Monash Rural Health Bendigo provides clinical years education to a cohort of between 100 and 130 Third, Fourth- and Fifth-Year Monash Medical students in a rural setting. It is largely an ‘apprentice based’ model of learning where the students get access to rural clinical sites and rural health experts as well as a state-of-the-art clinical skills and simulation lab to undertake the clinical years of their medical degree. But what happens to this kind of model during a pandemic induced shut down such as was experienced in 2020? This paper explores the challenges but also opportunities for students pursuing a rural health pathway in the midst of a public health emergency. It examines the findings of the COVID-19 Educational Evaluation conducted in Bendigo throughout 2020 and reveals the advantages but also the unanticipated consequences of students choosing to study rurally in the midst of a global pandemic.
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